By David Tuma, Publisher
Midway hung on for a tie a Tiger Field to claim a share of the district title with Lady Tigers Soccer. Both teams should win out in district play. Belton dominated totally in the first half that ended in a 1-1 tie. The game ended that way.
Belton missed a few point blank shots in the game. Midway competed more in the second half and created some opportunities in a rough playoff game with multiple players shaken up. Belton with only one senior and three starters out for mOst of the game looks scary in the future.
“It was a fight with the long ball. They were trying to hit it long on us. We played the game on their half of the field. This team is going to be very, very good next year. I am the only senior on the team. Those losses to great teams early helped,” said Alexis Mack.
It was as sharp as the Lady Tigers have looked all season. Their ball movement was crisp and their defense outstanding. Midway came out playing a 5-4-1 hoping to get a goal somehow while playing five players on the defensive back. This was needed to deal with Belton’s 3-forwards system.
Izzy Rhoads had a steal early passed quickly to Tiarra Hodges. Hodges who was the best athlete on the field crossed to Emma Stinson who scored to make it 1-0 with 37:44 left in the first half. Harlie Wiley had a stop at 36:55.
In a rough game with virtually no calls either way, Midway got a huge break. They were awarded a free kick at the top of the box for a minor hit.
Belton made the stop, but kicked it back in the middle giving Midway a wide open shot they converted to tie the game.
Stinson had another clear shot off goal after Allison Navarro made a steal near midfield. Hodges’s shot went just over the top bar. Mack set up Caroline Stegall, whose shot was high. Mattie Krenek, off a steal, set up Rachel Ramm whose shot was stopped at 29:34. Hodges, driving for the corner, was knocked down with the ball not touched.
Stinson, with position for a header, got a shoulder in the ribs sending her sideways. Stinson was injured and did not return. Hodges taken down hard at the top of the box with the ball not touched.
Krenek set up Mack, who set up a corner kick at 23:27. Mack is a defender and because the ball wasn’t getting past midfield much, she contributed on offense. Erica Anderson played outstanding on defense and had a huge stop near midfield at 21:54. Rhoads had another stop setting up Rachel Ramm, whose shot was blocked. The first 20 minutes was total domination of play by Belton.
Hodges showed how to do it properly, making a sliding tackle with the ball knocked out and the Midway player flying in the air. Hodges drew a foul on the play. Anderson and Rhoads had stops. Belton took some long-range shots that killed some chances late in the first half. They also took some shots in the second half from 25 yards out that were legitimate.
Belton has more athletes right now who can fire the ball with velocity from 30 yards out than at any time in their history.
Midway controlled play early in the first half and created some opportunities. It wasn’t until 31:45 that Belton had an opportunity. Mack went the length of the field and found Hodges from 15-yards. The shot was just wide. It was just one of those games.
Cassandra Grimaldo set up a corner kick. Anderson had two big stops at 28:49 and 23:19.
Midway, with as many as seven players on the back line on defense, were stopping everything Belton tried. They were hoping to wear out the Lady Tigers and get a breakaway goal. Wiley with a two-handed push in the back, gave up the ball to a Midway player in the box. She ended up making the stop, but it was a scary moment late in the game. At the end, the Lady Tigers were hanging on. Midway created some chances in he second half. It was simply an outstanding soccer game by both teams.
Navarro just missed over the top bar twice late.
Midway is very good and well-coached. It was a game the Lady Tigers desperately needed. They hadn’t played a great team since early in season.
Belton is not the same team they were early on. This is a solid, young team that if they get back some starters could make a run. There were simply too many new ultra talented players tying to mesh early in the season.
“We got a physical game and it was nice. We don’t get that much in district. I was not happy when we came back from the Dallas tournament. It was just youthful mistakes. They turned it around. Our preseason schedule was simply brutal. Dallas brought some reality to the team. They have grown up so much this season. Our ability to posses the ball like we did tonight is impressive. If we play like this we can beat anybody,” said Lady Tiger head coach Wendy Knight.