The Granbury Lady Pirates had not tied a soccer match all season.
Ironically, when they did in Tuesday’s season finale at Cleburne, the 1-1 deadlock cost them a playoff berth.
The Lady Jackets, on the other hand, had played to four previous ties. The fifth kept them one standings point ahead of the Lady Pirates, locking up fourth place and the final postseason berth from District 15-4A.
Teams receive two points for a victory and one point for a tie. Cleburne (3-3-4 in district) finished with 10 points. Granbury (4-5-1) had nine.
“It wasn’t the ending we expected, but we battled really hard,” said Lady Pirate senior Courtney Heathington. “We had a few chances to win. It (the ball) just didn’t go in.
“I think we did well as a team this season. We just needed one more win.”
The Lady Pirates (9-10-1 overall) played solid defense throughout the season, including a 1-0 victory over Cleburne in the first half of district in Granbury.
However, scoring sometimes plagued them. They had one stretch in district where they were shut out in three straight games.
“When we hit the second round, we started slow,” said Heathington.
Tuesday’s game was a winner-take-all affair. Or, in the case of Cleburne, a win-or-tie-take-all contest.
“The ties they had in district put them in good position,” said Lady Pirate coach David Winkleman of Cleburne. “We had to win and they didn’t.
“We gave it all we had. We tried our best. The whole team played lights out.”
After the teams played to scoreless halftime tie, Cleburne struck early in the second half on a free kick.
“It was a good shot. Nobody was going to stop that shot,” said Winkleman.
Granbury tied the game on Marissa Baird’s goal with 25 minutes remaining. Hannah Hiler, a senior playing in her final game, had the assist.
“We got a great job from all the seniors,” said Winkleman, lauding the play of his entire team.
“The defense played great again. Cleburne didn’t have very many chances.”
The Lady Pirates had several closes losses that, turned into victories, would have them preparing for bidistrict next week, Winkleman said.
“The season is full of what-ifs, but we were in position in the last game to get in,” he said.
Winkleman said despite the loss of several key players to upcoming graduation, the future is bright for his team.
“We’ve got some good defenders coming back, some good outsides, a couple of strong strikers,” he said. “We’ve got to fill some big holes, but I’ve got a good group coming back.”
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Granbury 0 1 – 1
Cleburne 0 1 – 1
Granbury goal (assist) – Marissa Baird (Hannah Hiler).