DALLAS, Texas – It was a staunch defensive philosophy that helped salvage the Lady Indians season after first round district struggles and Thursday night was no different.

Defense, not offense, helped Waxahachie High School’s varsity girls soccer team nullify the physical nature of their bi-district opponent.

The Lady Indians beat Dallas’ Molina High School 3-1 on Thursday night at Wilmer-Hutchins Football Field and decisively moved into the area championship round of the 5A playoffs.

“It’s definitely satisfying,” said Megan Gaither, the Lady Indians senior captain and a defensive midfielder. “We had to fight this team to the last second, but, sometimes, it’s better to win a game you’ve got to fight for. We’ve got momentum and we learned to never quit.”

Gaither said her team didn’t falter or bemoan its luck when the Lady Jaguars struck first, it went to and did what it knows best — play defense. She also joked she and her teammates had a secret incentive to take Molina down, something they had missed after the loss to Ennis.

“There were three cards in the game, but you learn in the game of soccer, if you keep your cool and play your game, it’ll end in your favor. Whataburger was our motivation the whole time, really. It’s kind of sweet and something to look forward to other than the win.”

Lady Indians junior captain Abby Martinez credited the underclassmen with handling the pressure of their first playoff game and not backing down to the physicality of Dallas Molina. She noted the performances of players like freshmen Madelynn James and Danielle Kyle and sophomores Ryleigh Horn and Taylor Camp, players who helped WHS return to the second round of the playoffs.

“They stepped up for sure,”she continued. “Every freshman and all the young players stepped up and that’s all we ask for,” Martinez said. “This one definitely gave us some confidence I think we’ve needed for a while now. Coming out with the win’s given us the spark to go out there and play hard in round two.”

WHS saw Martinez, Duvall and junior Ariana Acosta all place goals inside of the Lady Jaguars net and help it beat district 13-5A’s No. 1 team to earn the right to play Sulfur Springs High School on April 1.

Humor aside, Jason Venable, the Lady Indians head soccer coach said Gaither’s quiet leadership was invaluable after the Lady Jaguars quick score as well as how she has helped the mixture of youthful newcomers and veterans steer the ship toward success.

Venable said Gaither, the team’s only senior, is the defensive glue that allows the top three scorers the freedom to damage opponents’ front lines almost at will.

“She’s the heartbeat of the team in the middle of the field,” Venable said. “She’s constantly on the ball and that player who’s like a gnat to the other team because she doesn’t give them any space to move and do much with the ball.

“She’s never going to be the big goal scorer for us, but she sets up so many things for so many other players. I told the girls to win it for the senior, because Megan’s done this for four years and she doesn’t want to go home yet.”