Cove Lady Dawg Soccer edges Lady Knights in home finale
By TJ MAXWELL
It has been a rocky season for the Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs’ soccer team but a strong win over the Harker Heights Lady Knights Tuesday in their home finale at Bulldawg Stadium will help end the year on a high note.
With the likes of Belton, Waco Midway, new edition San Angelo Central and a host of Killeen schools dominating the pitch, it was an uphill battle for the underclass-heavy Lady Dawgs.
However, a 2-1 win over Harker Heights in their final time in front of home fans on senior night closed their home stand strong.
“Before we went out tonight, we talked about the word of the night ‘composure’ and I felt like the girls did what they needed to do,” said Lady Bulldawgs’ assistant coach Chelsea Letzer-Spoor. “We played pretty composed for the most part and I’m just happy with the outcome.
The Lady Dawgs dominated the action early to take a 2-0 lead into the half time break.
Cove came out firing, scoring their first goal in the fourth minute when senior Ja’Nia Johnson crossed to the left of goal where junior Mariah Ruiz was waiting all alone. She quickly found sophomore Emily Cason charging towards the goal and crossed it back for the assist on the Cason header for a 1-0 Cove lead.
A couple more shots on goal by senior Kailey Walker and sophomore Adora Lumpkin kept the pressure on the Lady Knights before a pass from Walker to sophomore Haven Stevenson for the second header goal of the half gave the Lady Dawgs a 2-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
“We’ve been working a lot on finishing,” said Letzer-Spoor. “We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve had 20-plus opportunities and walked away with one or two goals, so we’ve really been pressing them to finish.”
Cove threatened several more times in the first half, including a pair of close calls on a cross by Stevenson to Lumpkin that barely missed the mark in the 23rd minute and a cross from Ruiz to Lumpkin.
A pair of saves by junior goal keeper Kaijah Lamkin on shot attempts by Harker Heights’ Carter Reaves kept Cove in control.
The Lady Dawgs attempted to up their lead as time winded down in the first half on shot on goal by Walker and a pair of charges by Stevenson, including one derailed by the half time buzzer.
“In the world of soccer a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead because all it takes is one goal for the other team to be back in it,” said Letzer-Spoor. “At half time we just talked to them about not exhaling and continuing to play our game.”
The Lady Knights made it a contest with a quick goal to start the second half when Reaves scored on a solo drive up the middle for a 2-1 score in the 47th minute.
“I just kept telling the girls to settle down,” Letzer-Spoor said about the quick Lady Knights’ score. “I felt like we got a little panicked there for a minute and I didn’t want the two minutes of panic to turn into more.”
Cove had an opportunity to regain a two-point advantage with a penalty kick from about 22 yards out but the attempt by Walker sailed high.
Stevenson again found herself in front of the Knights defense with an open look on goal but her hard shot ricocheted off the goalpost in the 61st minute.
The Lady Dawgs kept the pressure on with shots on goal by Walker an Ruiz, including one by Ruiz that landed in the netting atop the goal by inches.
Another attempt by Stevenson in the 77th minute sailed just wide and her last shot with 38 seconds left was also off the mark.
The Lady Dawgs will conclude their season tonight in Killeen against the Kangaroos and Letzer-Spoor just wants them to enjoy the experience.
“I would just like for them to have fun,” she said. “It’s been a roller coaster season, so it would be nice to have them go out in a fun way in their last district game.”