McKINNEY — When the Lady Eagles stepped on the field on the evening of April 4 for their match against Frisco Centennial, they had one thing on their minds: victory. Tensions were especially high, as Centennial was last year’s 5A State Champions — and knocked Prosper out of the playoffs in a crushing 5-1 defeat. This year the Lady Titans were the winners of District 13-5A, with a record of 9-1-1 (14-2-1 overall). They defeated Royse City 3-2 on Friday, March 31, to advance to the Regional Quarterfinal against Prosper. The Lady Eagles entered the game on a high note, after defeating Mesquite Poteet 6-0 in the Area Championship.
Although both teams were eager to get the match started, an unexpected weather delay pushed the start time back to 8:30, adding to the angst of the game.
“We lost to them last year, and they won state,” senior Gabby Gamboa said. “We just wanted to come out and destroy this team.”
When the time finally came for kickoff, however, the Lady Eagles were ready.
Prosper’s offense got off to a great start in the opening minutes of the game, creating two back-to-back shots by sophomore Diana Ordonez. The Lady Titans did find a quick counter attack off one of the shots, but senior goalkeeper Haley Birmingham scooped up the save with ease. Both teams began to settle into the possession, although Prosper seemed to be the more dominate team. They earned two corners early in the half, both taken by junior Kat Rogers, but missed opportunities left Prosper scoreless. Centennial rallied up a quick counterattack that threatened to give them the lead, but freshman centerback Lauren Lapomarda chased down the Lady Titan attacker and earned a goal kick.
Prosper was adamant about finding that first goal, and continued to expose the Centennial back line with long balls over the top. In one play, Rogers sent a perfect ball over the back for Ordonez to run on to. The sophomore skillfully flicked the ball over the keeper, but a recovering Lady Titan defender hastily cleared it away before Ordonez could get the final shot off. It seemed that it would be a game of “almosts” for the home team, as nothing was falling their way offensively.
Finally, in the 25th minute they broke the deadlock. Junior Kristen Knipe sent a long-range bomb into the box. The ball deflected off the crossbar and bounced before finding the head of senior Mo Ordonez, who headed away the rebound. One minute later, it was senior Katie Lapomarda with goal number two off a cross from Diana Ordonez. With the 2-0 advantage, the Lady Eagles had all the momentum, forcing several turnovers and looking dangerous on the attack. Centennial tried to lessen the lead, but Birmingham was tough to beat in goal making several crucial saves to carry the girls into halftime with the 2-0 lead.
The former state champions did not want to go down without a fight, however, firing away several shots early in the second half. But Prosper ended their short run eight minutes into the half with a beautiful shot by Knipe.
“I just saw it coming,” said Knipe about her goal. “It bounced right in front of me and I got it just right.”
The junior collected a rebound at the 20-yard line and blasted a shot that ricocheted off the post and into the goal. Prosper goalkeeper Peyton York made a few easy saves before acting as the catalyst for goal number four. The junior punted a long ball down the field to Diana Ordonez, who received the punt and slipped a pass down to Knipe. Knipe found the easy pass into a waiting Rogers and calmly slammed the ball past the Centennial goalkeeper. The fifth and final goal was pure grit from senior Gabby Gamboa. With eleven minutes remaining in the game, Gamboa made a quick run into the box. She received a pass from Ordonez out wide, chested it down and ripped a volley right at the keeper. She managed to collect her own rebound and fired another shot as she was being shoved to the ground by defenders, sealing the victory for the Lady Eagles.
As sweet as the victory is, Coach Rafael Flores said that the girls are just focusing on the next game.
“You’re not ever going to be on another team that’s gonna go 25-0 at this point,” said Flores. “You have to think about every playoff game as an entire season… it’s just one game at a time, and once it ends, we get on the bus, go home and think about the next one.”
Prosper was back in action for the Regional semifinals on Friday, April 7, at 1 p.m. to take on Mansfield Legacy at Standridge Stadium in Carrollton.