WAXAHACHIE — Nine players suffered season-ending injuries players before a fourth official game was played.
The level of attrition on the Waxahachie High School roster has been maddening for Head Coach Jason Venable, despite his girls finding a way to claw and scratch their way to an unbeaten record.
The Lady Indians, however, capped the Highway 287 Tournament with a 2-1 victory against Waco University High School Saturday at Lumpkins Stadium, marking a step forward through the adversity of early season soccer.
Waxahachie (2-0-1) won its tournament opener with an 8-0 rout of Lake Worth High School on Thursday. Danielle Kyle and Abby Martinez's three-goal hat-tricks, as well as goals from Alyssa Stevens and Savannah Duvall and assists from Duvall, Viviana Gonzalez and team captain Ariana Acosta, powered the Lady Indians in their first official win of the 2016-17 season.
The weekend didn't start as easily as it finished, though.
"That 11 a.m. game on Saturday against Kaufman (High School) was a bad game. It was chaos," Venable said. "We lost three starters in the first half. We were scrambling to find people to put on the field in the right spots and most of them were out of position. To come away with a draw and not give up a loss in those circumstances is a testament to how gritty and flexible the girls were and how well they played defensively."
Venable said Waxahachie lost Kyle to the athletic department's concussion protocol after she fell and her head slammed into the turf about five minutes into the game and Gonzalez, who played only her second varsity game, after she fell and fractured her clavicle and broke her collarbone. They also removed captain Ariana Acosta because of the threat of a pulled hamstring.
Despite losing three integral pieces to their burgeoning offense — including Gonzalez, which Venable said will miss between six to eight weeks — Waxahachie didn't allow a single shot in 90 minutes of high school soccer.
The Lady Indians outshot Kaufman, which beat them in last year's tournament, 22-0 and nearly scored on two near-perfect kicks by Martinez.
"Abby had two incredible shots the Kaufman goalkeeper made incredible saves on," Venable continued. "If they didn't have that goalkeeper it could have been ugly, but they had a really good one. It was probably the strength of their team."
The defensive surge Waxahachie enjoyed against Kaufman continued against the Lady Trojans, too.
They outshot Waco University 12-6 and scored two goals on those attempts. Martinez scored on a corner kick that deflected off the goalkeeper and Savannah Duvall added a point on an unassisted goal in the tournament finale.
Venable said, despite the injury-riddled weeks he and his Lady Indians have had to battle through, their response to the early-season misfortune bodes well for the trials that lie ahead in district play.
"If nothing else, these girls are learning to deal with adversity," Venable said. "They've had to do it since August. Every time we turn around, it seems like somebody else is getting hurt. We're getting to a point where we're getting kind of well, but we're still missing some of the key players we're not going to get back. Defensively, they played well given they played the tournament with a makeshift defense and allowed only one goal in three games and two or three — counting scrimmages — in six or seven games."
The Lady Indians will face Sherman High School at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday at Aledo High School. They will then play the winner of the Ennis High School and Aledo High School matchup during the second round of the tournament.
"The weather's a concern for us, too," he continued. "Last week it was snow. This week it could be rain. It's a pretty short turnaround until our first district game. We don't play at all this week save for the tournament and next week we play Friday against Ennis. We're on to district play after that."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.