RED OAK — The Lady Hawks secured their place atop the District 10-5A girls' soccer standings after scoring six unanswered goals against Waxahachie High School on Tuesday at Billy Goodloe Stadium.
Waxahachie, the second team to fall in back-to-back Lady Hawk wins, now faces an uphill climb toward the playoffs — with a more depleted roster than when its girls stepped onto the pitch.
"In the last week, we have lost four starters to injury or illness," said Jason Venable, the head girls' soccer coach at Waxahachie. "We have seven players probably out for the remainder of the season, with six probably being starters if they were well. We have faced adversity all season but continue to compete and grow. We have had no depth this season and have had only five players as reserves. We had to bring up two ladies from JV in the last week and both started last night. While Red Oak has several key sophomore players that contribute, we have as many or more. Lack of experience last night and the inability to have subs to keep us hurting us against fresher and healthier teams."
Red Oak High School, which is now 8-3-1 overall and 7-1-1 during district play, has won five of its last six games and outscored Lancaster, Midlothian, Mansfield Summit and Mansfield Timberview High Schools 39-6.
Despite the Lady Hawks' goal-scoring prowess, the game was tied 0-0 until about 1:37 was left in the first half. Only one of the six goals were scored before halftime.
Besides the defensive gem produced by senior goalkeeper Ashlynn Pritchett and the back half of the Red Oak defense, the Lady Hawks received goals and assists from four different players. While junior Maliyah Mendoza, who is second in goals scored, earned a three-goal hat trick for the second time this season and received more than a modicum of backup.
"Red Oak has scored a lot of goals [this season]. We had a player, a sophomore, start last night that had never played defense on varsity ever," Venable said. "She did outstanding and shut down Rushing all night. We focused on their two top goal scorers. We did a pretty good job at shutting them down, but they had a couple others contribute. We knew they were capable of scoring a lot and in the second half that happened and they scored five goals. That's how soccer is sometimes. Once a team gets two or three, sometimes the game snowballs and it's hard to catch back up."
Sophomore forward Makayla Rushing, who leads the team in goals with 15 and has three hat tricks of her own, handed out a trio of assists. Mendoza, senior Courtney Kendrick (1) and Samantha Morgan (1) and sophomore Madison Humphrey (1) each scored at least one goal.
Mendoza, Morgan and Victoria Garza contributed an assist each.
The (9-7-1, 4-5) Lady Indians, the five-time district champions and five-time regional qualifiers, and their senior powerhouse combo of Abigail Martinez and Ariana Acosta were held scoreless for only the fourth time this season.
"We are currently in fifth place with five games remaining. We need to win three of those four to make the playoffs, so we have our work cut out for us," Venable said. "In the first round, we won two of those five remaining games. Our match against Midlothian one where we want to prove we can do better in than in the first round at [MISD Multi-Purpose Stdium]. We know we can do much better. We also played first place Mansfield Legacy, which we will face next Tuesday, to a 2-1 finish."
While Red Oak will face Mansfield Lake Ridge High School at Vernon Newsom Stadium, Waxahachie will look to take a step toward inserting itself back into the 5A playoff conversation against Midlothian High School at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium.
Both games could shift the playoff fates for all four teams and are at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.