PROSPER — The Prosper High School Lady Eagles soccer team prepared for their final game of the district season in a different way on March 23. Prior to the match against the Lake Dallas Lady Falcons, head coach Rafael Flores and the rest of the team battled the windy conditions to honor six important members of the team: the class of 2018 seniors.
“I would like to thank all six seniors for their contributions to the Lady Eagle Soccer Program,” Flores wrote in his senior night speech prior to the game. “In the last four years, the Program has risen to new heights, and [they] have been an integral part of that success.”
The final home game of the season also signified a potential 14-win district season from the Lady Eagles, something that Flores said the team has never done.
But that task seemed to be achievable early when freshman Natalie Smathers put Prosper ahead 2-0 within the first three minutes. After collecting a loose ball, senior Peyton Jefferson beat several Lake Dallas defenders down the line and fed a beautiful ball across the box, finding the feet of a streaking Smathers, who calmly tapped in goal number one. Smathers then put away a powerful shot on the one-v-one attempt moments later to double the score.
While the goal-scoring fell into a lull for the next 10 minutes, the offensive pressure on the Lake Dallas back line did not. The Lady Eagles created several opportunities to increase the lead, even playing against the wind in the first.
But Prosper wasn’t done scoring.
On a corner kick, sophomore Reese Cross delivered a floating ball into the box that Lake Dallas keeper Greer Griffis initially saved, but dropped. Senior Kristin Knipe pounced on the rebound and blasted home the second-chance volley.
Following a threatening Lake Dallas free kick that ricocheted off the post, Prosper tacked on goal number four, courtesy of Caroline Havard. Showcasing her flashy footwork, the sophomore juked past two Lady Falcon defenders before slamming a left-footed shot past the keeper.
They would add two more later in the half; the first coming from another Cross corner kick connecting with senior Kat Rogers, and the second from senior Cameron Larsen.
Despite the deflating 6-0 deficit, the Lady Falcons continued to fight, nearly notching a goal at the end of the half. With just minutes left on the clock, Lake Dallas mustered up a quick counter attack, resulting a powerful shot just outside the box. Looking as though it would be the first Lady Falcon goal of the game, junior goalkeeper Sydney Crowe made a spectacular diving save to keep them scoreless. The Lady Eagles headed to the halftime huddle leading 6-0.
Entering the second half, Flores elected to rotate the lineup in honor of senior day, allowing defenders Peyton Jefferson and Maycie McDougal to play up top.
The switch paid off as Jefferson netted her first goal of the season from another corner kick, this time taken by junior Hadley Williams. McDougal also scored on a penalty kick.
“It was really nice because as a defender you don’t really get a bunch of credit,” McDougal said. “It’s really good to be able to score and put all that work into it.”
With numerous other chances to add to the lead, the team would close the second half with the dominant 8-0 win over Lake Dallas.
“[The win] was good — we hadn’t shut anyone out since the beginning of district, really, and we hadn’t put a lot of goals up like we did tonight,” Flores said. “Every senior got a goal on senior night, everyone got to play, so it was good.”
For the seniors, it was an incredible way to end the year.
“It was awesome to go out the way we did,” Rogers said. “This team is something special, so to see us progress throughout the year and to go out like that, it was really good.”
“We just love our team so much, so it was nice to spend this last game with them and get a good win,” added Knipe.
Flores was also happy with the win, mostly for the seniors and their journey ahead.
“Thank you for providing us with countless memories and some amazing wins in your time here,” he wrote to the girls. “I wish you all the best and will cherish all our memories together.”
The Lady Eagles will now look ahead to another exciting run in the playoffs. They are pitted against Frisco High, who finished fourth in their district. The game will be played at a neutral site on either next Thursday, Friday or Saturday. More details will be available in the coming weeks.