RED OAK – It was a battle of all-state versus rookie goal keepers. At least, it was on paper.
Despite a wide difference in experience, Waxahachie senior Sarah Hay and Red Oak freshman Lauren Eshelman were two of the big reasons neither team was able to muster any offense in a 0-0 tie between the district and county rivals Friday night.
“It was a very defensive game because there was a lot of respect for both teams. Both teams know that game was extremely important,” Red Oak coach Trent Kutch said. “As far as for a tie, tonight you can’t complain about it.”
Of course it wasn’t like the team’s weren’t getting opportunities.
Both goalies had five saves before halftime and both finished with double-figure stops by game’s end.
After a rather stagnant first half, the Lady Indians got three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes of the second half and were unable to connect on any of them. The Lady Hawks responded with a breakaway shot attempt by Paige McMillan later in the period that was stopped by Hayes. Red Oak also had a corner kick with just under seven minutes left that failed to yield points.
Through it all, the goalies set up the defense and came up with stop after stop.
“Sarah Hay is an awesome goalie. She knows how to work the ball and we definitely can trust her behind us,” Waxahachie’s Lindsey Williams said.
That faith was almost rewarded with time winding down in the game as a Lady Indian was fouled while making a move close to the goal late in the second half. That set up a penalty kick for Waxahachie which Eshelman had to defend alone.
Much to Eshelman’s relief, the kick sailed over the crossbar of the football goal posts, preserving the scoreless game. While she had built up confidence throughout the contest, Eshelman wasn’t quite ready for such direct spotlight.
“That was what it came down to and I was definitely glad that it went over,” Eshelman said. “(Being under pressure) made me nervous at first but as the game went on I got more comfortable with it and I’m glad with the turnout.”
Hay, an all-state goal keeper last season, isn’t new to this situation. The previous two meetings with Red Oak have all been close with the Lady Hawks owning the lone win, a 2-1 margin in the first meeting last year. The last two contests have been 0-0 deadlocks.
The two keepers saw different types of shot selections on the night, making it hard to say who had the tougher time. The important thing – neither cracked under pressure.
“All of them were very difficult. Most of hers were in the air and mine were more 1-on-1’s but we both made the right decisions and I think the goalie’s decision dictates a lot of what the outcome of a game is,” Hay said.
The tie means the two teams are deadlocked with no district losses heading into the back end of the season. Red Oak has beaten Lancaster, Corsicana and Ferris with a game against Ennis scheduled for Tuesday to close out the first half. The Lady Indians own wins over Ennis, Ferris and Lancaster with Corsicana still to come.
The two teams will meet on March 15 with the all likelihood of deciding the district championship. Despite four games in between now and then, both teams are already looking forward to that meeting and its significance.
“We knew this was going to be a hard game because this is our rivalry. We just went out there and did our stuff,” Red Oak’s Lauren Hunter said. “Sadly we didn’t score but next time we’re on their home field we’re going to shut them down.”
“We knew going into it it was going to be between us and them and we didn’t want to tie, we wanted to go ahead and get a win as far as first round. That’ll give us a reason to play second round,” Waxahachie coach Jason Venable said. “We just have to know we have to win that one at our place, at least it’s at our place. Senior night, at our place on Tuesday of spring break is when we’ll play. I think they’ll be focused. If we’d have won, they might not have taken it as seriously as we’re going to have to take it now.”
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