KINGSVILLE—Anyone familiar with the local high school girls soccer scene knows that it’s going to be a tight matchup when Pleasanton and Kingsville meet.
For the fourth year in a row, the two met in the postseason. For the third consecutive year the teams met in the third round.
And for the third straight season, the Lady Eagles prevailed to advance to the regional tournament.
“We always seem to bring out the best in each other,” Pleasanton coach Brant Bird said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of year either team has had; we’re going to fight until the end.”
Pleasanton got a goal from sophomore Delanee Olivarri with less than four minutes remaining to outlast the Lady Brahmas 4-3 Friday night at Kingsville’s MoPac Field.
“Having a team like these girls is something that I wouldn’t trade,” Olivarri said. “We never gave up. No matter who scored [the game-winner], it would have been amazing, and it was. It just so happened that it was me.”
The Lady Eagles will next face No. 2 Liberty Hill in the Region IV-4A semifinals at noon Friday at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Lady Panthers advanced with a 4-0 win over Fredericksburg in the quarterfinals.
Against Kingsville, Pleasanton won despite leading for less than five minutes of game time. The Lady Eagles were aggressive offensively early on but could not break through.
Xyren Carmona gave the Lady Brahmas an early lead off an assist by Danielle Herrera in the 10th minute. Pleasanton was held off the board until Carly Esquivel’s goal with 8:30 before halftime.
The Kingsville goalie turned away a handful of shots before Esquivel found an opening.
“We talked at halftime about working together and not having an individual effort. Combination play was the way we were going to break through, and sure enough, in the second half that’s what did it for us.”
The Lady Eagles took their first lead following a penalty kick in the early minutes of the second half. Kaitlyn Garcia scored after the Lady Brahmas were called for a handball in the box.
But less than 30 seconds later, Kingsville knotted the game at 2 on a goal by Ella McMahan.
Herrera put the Lady Brahmas in control, 3-2, in the 53rd minute. Kingsville made two more saves before Garcia scored her second goal with 12 minutes left.
Pleasanton kept up the pressure and Olivarri found the back of the net in the 77th minute.
Olivarri and Garcia also had assists in the contest.
“I owed it to my teammates,” Olivarri said. “They pushed me all season long, so just doing this for them is amazing.”
Olivarri and the other returners hope to erase the memory of last year’s 9-3 defeat at the hands of Wimberley in the regional semifinals. Bird said his team can take lessons from that match into this year’s tournament.
“We got thumped,” he said. “I told the girls that even though the scoreline was pretty drastic, we made improvements from the previous years we’ve been. We scored three times, and we’d never scored three times before. Each time we’ve gone, we’ve gotten better. This year, the whole season, we’ve talked about how we’re tired of losing in the regional semifinals. This can be the year that we can move on. They believe it, I believe it, so now we just have to go and prove it.”