GEORGETOWN – When she had a chance to take stock of the bronze medal draped around her neck Thursday, Dripping Springs senior Jessica Carmichael’s face radiated with happiness.
Granted, the accolade was a bittersweet memento of a 4-0 state semifinal loss to the Mansfield Legacy Broncos that brought the Dripping Springs Lady Tigers’ thrilling championship quest to an end.
But the medal also signified the amount of work put in to becoming the first Lady Tiger squad to reach the state tournament in 11 years. While the conclusion wasn’t how the Tigers envisioned their season ending, Carmichael cherished the ride to get there.
“We made it here. I know the ride home is going to be a little sad, but we’re going to celebrate how awesome this season was,” Carmichael said. “We worked for this. We lost, but we worked our hardest to get here.”
Bailee Perinne, Lady Tiger head soccer coach, lauded the play of her squad, specifically her 11 seniors who provided key leadership during the season. Their talents pushed them past several key tests, including wins over perennial powerhouses Gregory-Portland and Boerne Champion in the regional tournament.
Getting to play at state was an “exciting” venture, said Tiger senior Ziva Payer.
“We worked our butts off every single day – training and in games and even our rest days,” Payer said. “Our coach pushed us to be the best athletes we could be.”
Ultimately, Dripping Springs failed to corral a larger, more physical Legacy squad from not only imposing their will, but also taking advantage of opportunities and Tiger miscues.
Legacy leapt out to a 1-0 lead when Bronco Brigid Murray took advantage of loose ball in front of the Tiger net and successfully buried a 15-yard shot.
Legacy’s lead expanded to 2-0 right before intermission when a misplayed ball in front of the net was booted in by Viviana Garica. The Broncos kept up the pace and tallied two more goals in the final 40 minutes.
Bronco Andrea Garcia headed in a goal four minutes into the second half, while Ashley Perez added a goal on a penalty kick in the 65th minute.
While her team had an overall speed advantage, Lady Tiger strikers didn’t get “the opportunities they had been getting all year,” Perrine said. The Lady Tigers were outshot 12-1, but finished the game with six total corner kicks.
“Usually my team is the strong team, but this is probably the strongest team we’ve met up with physically,” Perrine said.
A formidable Legacy midfield proved a challenge for the Tigers to bypass. Carmichael said Legacy won balls out of the air “every single time,” which is a weakness Dripping Springs has battled with this season.
Dripping Springs also battled against a blustery 20 mile-per-hour wind in the first half, which kept them from making long passes into the scoring third for Payer and senior Zoe Flores. However, Perrine credited Legacy’s ability to shut down their game plan and keep her team off the board.
“It was a good team to play, a good team to see and compete with,” Perrine said. “You can’t be mad at that. We wished it bounced way more and that we capitalized on our opportunities.
Perrine, Carmiachel and Payer all looked ahead to the future of the program. Six underclassmen are expected to return next season. While there are some leadership roles to be filled, Perrine said this season’s success could lead to a prosperous 2020 campaign.
“We’re going to have a super-solid team,” Carmichael said. “I have to say watch out to everyone next year.”