PEARLAND — For the 15th time in 16 years, the Friendswood girls soccer team will be playing in the regional tournament.
The Lady Mustangs (20-4-3) used very disciplined defense and controlled the back line Tuesday in a 2-1 victory of the Fort Bend Ridge Point Lady Panthers (18-3-3) at The Rig in Pearland.
“It was a tough win,” Friendswood head coach Laura Peter said. “We had to fight hard. We started out great, scored early and responded to their early goal, then had to play some tough defense.”
Tuesday night, senior Zoe Cole got Friendswood’s first goal in the third minute off a loose ball in the box that started with a corner kick.
Six minutes later, Madison Grover scored the equalizing goal for the Lady Panthers.
But Friendswood bounced back in the 10th minute when Maddy Kimmel scored the team’s second goal to put it back ahead, 2-1.
Playing into a strong wind, the Lady Mustangs had several other opportunities to tack on another goal in the first half.
Taylor Rue’s shot 20 minutes in hit the top crossbar, and Cole almost netted her second goal 5:35 before the half, but the ball deflected off the crossbar.
In the second half, Friendswood’s defense remained solid to hold the Lady Panthers at bay.
“We gambled and played into the win in the first half, but it really died down and didn’t give us any advantage playing with it in the second,” Peter said. “We had several chances, but we just couldn’t get it in the net.”
Friendswood goalkeeper Klaryssa Heussmann was busy in the second half and shut down Ridge Point, making a key save eight minutes into the second half. She finished with 15 total stops to preserve the victory.
Friendswood will face Lumberton at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the regional semifinals at Turner Stadium in Humble.
The Lady Mustangs’ streak of 14 straight regional tournament appearances ended last season with a second-round loss, and getting back there was a goal for the team this season.
“When it becomes habit, it becomes something you want,” Peter said. “But you don’t take it for granted. Last year left a pretty bad taste in my mouth and I know it did for the girls, too. You want to keep the team focused and playing one game at a time, but getting back here was a big goal of ours, and I’m proud they did it.”
Daily News Assistant News Editor Jim Levesque contributed to this report.