LUBBOCK - For the second straight year, the Stephenville Honeybees saw a vastly successful soccer season come to an end in a loss to perennial power Canyon Randall. This time, it came earlier in the post season.
Randall built a two-goal lead and then held off Stephenville 2-1 in the sectional finals at Lowrey Field Friday, a year after dominating the Bees 6-1 in the regional semifinals.
Stephenville was unable to score with help from a fierce wind with gusts reaching 53 miles per hour in the first half, and played its best soccer against the wind after halftime.
“We were timid and nervous in the first half,” Stephenville head coach Casey Weil said. “We kept grinding and finally started playing better in the second half, but it was too late.”
Randall advances to meet El Paso Del Valle in the regional quarterfinals.
Stephenville goal keeper Hillari Chambers did all she could to keep the Bees in the game after they scored to pull within a goal at 2-1. The senior made six straight saves in a 10-minute period of the second half.
“She was great in that stretch,” Weil said. “We had a couple critical errors in the back that were tough to overcome, but overall, I thought Hillari played well.”
Kara Dingman also made a big defensive play to keep Stephenvill alive, clearing out a potential rebound opportunity after a Randall shot got past Chambers and ricocheted off the left post.
It didn’t matter, however, as Randall took a 2-0 lead thanks to an against-the-wind goal late in the first half and a bouncer that was out of the reach of a diving Chambers just more than three minutes into the second half.
Caitlyn Cline scored Stephenville’s lone goal when she broke away from the pack and dribbled around both the last defender and the Canyon keeper before poking one into the net with 22:46 remaining.
Stephenville’s best chance in the closing minutes came on a corner kick with just less than two minutes left. Sweeper Madison Goodwin put the corner on top of the net and it rolled back out of play.
“If that ball comes down one foot the other way it’s right in front of the goal and we have a chance to get some traffic down there and try to put one in,” Weil said. “You hate to come up empty on an opportunity like that anytime, especially with less than two minutes left.”
Stephenville also had opportunities with the wind in the opening minutes of the game. Goodwin put one on goal in the third minute, a Kristy Ruiz shot was just off the mark seconds later and a rebound opportunity for Kayla Gregory forced the Canyon keeper to make her second save in a matter of seconds early in the fourth minute.
Chambers, Goodwin, Ruiz and Kelsey Evans are the only seniors Stephenville loses. The Honeybees will have 11 letter winners returning in 2011 including leading goal scorers Gregory (29) and Cline (27).