Eagle coach Donnie Bodron stared across the field at the team he used to call his own. Before the game, as the players were being announced, he reflected on his opponent with a sense of respect that a coach has for his former teammates. “I know what their girls can do,” Bodron said, “I know how they play and what we must do to stop them.” Deer Park came into the regional quarterfinal match-up with AHS sporting a 24-0-1 record and bragging rights from beating the Lady Eagles earlier in the season 7-0. Deer Park pressured the Eagles from the opening kick and had their first scoring opportunity off a corner kick in the first minute of play. Much of the first half of the game was spent in the AHS zone with the Lady Eagles on their heels as they tried to fight off the Deer Park onslaught. Strong defense from the back four of AHS and three saves for goalkeeper, Liberty East, kept the game scoreless for the first 20 minutes of play. Deer Park continued to dictate the action and pace of the game and finally broke through with 17 minutes left and took the lead 1-0 on a short kick inside the AHS box. That goal gave the Deer an emotional edge and let the air out of the AHS side, but the Lady Eagles continued to fight. Forward Kayla King could never get free from the Deer defense and their double teams, so coach Bodron moved junior Julie Lackey to the front to help their offensive efforts. “I wanted more people defending at the start of the game because of all their weapons,” Bodron said. “But when I saw that we could not get any attacks started up front, I moved Julie up to help Kayla.” Help her she did and with just 30 seconds left in the half, the Eagles set up for a corner kick on the right side of the Deer Park zone. Lackey kicked the ball toward the box and bent the shot just enough to clear the defense and reach the back of the net, tying the game 1-1. Fans roared and the Lady Eagles gained momentum heading into the half knotted up with the two time defending regional champions. The second half started differently than the first as AHS added some pressure of their own to the Deer and had their first scoring chance one minute into the half. Another shot was taken four minutes later, but just wide of the goal. The tandem of King and Lackey threatened one more time on a beautiful pass through the Deer Park defense. Lackey took the pass and shot for the goal but had the ball deflected away by the goal keeper. All the Lady Eagle pressure woke up the Deer and they countered with even more of their own. Twelve minutes into the second half, Deer Park forward Nations Jordan dribbled down the right unmarked and rocketed a shot just over the outstretched fingers of East, giving the Deer a 2-1 advantage. There was plenty of time left for the Lady Eagles to mount a comeback, but the experience and power of Deer Park denied any attempt at tying the score. The best Eagle chance after the second Deer goal came off a free kick by Kelsi Brown. A bending shot toward the net was saved by the Deer, keeping the advantage for her team. A turnover in their own box, late in the game, allowed Deer Park to tally another goal and seal the victory for their team. No one was sure what to expect going into the first year of varsity level soccer without any seasoned veterans or senior classmen. They have to be excited to see this group of young women be within two victories of the state tournament in the toughest region of the state. “How can you not be excited about the future when you see what we were able to do this year, knowing all these girls will be coming back,” Bodron said. If this year is any indication, 2008 will indeed be exciting times for Lady Eagle soccer. Photo: Junior Kayla King fights for the ball against the stingy Deer Park Defense. Photo by Wesley Orton

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