Lady Warriors fall short to Brandon in late rally, 3-2

By ANDREW ABADIE,
OAK GROVE – Facing a 3-0 deficit, the Oak Grove girls' soccer team fell short of a late come from behind win on Tuesday night.

Brandon managed to hold off an Oak Grove's comeback and come away with a 3-2 win that knocked out the Lady Warriors in the first round of the 6A playoffs.

"When you get into the playoffs, there are going to be tough games and it was unfortunate," Oak Grove head coach Clay Smith. "But I'm really proud of them for sticking together, becoming a team and getting us to this point and giving us a chance."

Brandon (13-1-2) scored in the 22nd minute on a deflected free-kick and put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0 at halftime.

"The first goal we made a defensive mistake and [Brandon] just capitalized," Smith said. "They were really tough. They play hard, they hustled, and they are good in the air. [Alyssa Davis] is one of the fastest players I've seen. My two fastest players are back there, and she just creates a lot. She just has pace."

Brandon scored again right after halftime in the 43rd minute and added its final goal in the 62nd minute. Facing the large deficit, Smith had his team make a key adjustment that set up his team's late success.

"We just started pressing a little bit more," Smith said. "In the last 15 minutes, we just put three in the back and put an extra forward up and that helped us and gave us more chances."

Zylah Mulligan ignited the late momentum by scoring on a penalty kick in the 77th minute and cut the deficit down to 3-1.

In the 76th minute, Minali Patton scored with an assist from Mulligan to narrow the score to 3-2 with four minutes left in the game.

"[Patton] made a smart play," Smith said. "Usually, you take a shot of the goal and try to crash but she saw an alley wide open and laid it to her and Natalie hit a great ball."

The Lady Warriors (17-6) got off a pair of late shots but could not finish off the comeback.

"I was proud of the girls for not giving up," Smith said. "They kept battling and almost came back and got that third goal. Three is tough to come back, but I was proud of them for continuing to fight and not giving up and at least getting close and having a shot.

"I'm really proud of them. We had to overcome some injuries and we got some people back from injury. They worked really hard, they fought hard. When we came back from Christmas I could just see in their eye. They were just played hard, playing confident. I'm really just proud of them for never giving up."