One by one, the Cedar Park girls soccer team checked off goals they created at the beginning of the year.
The Lady Timberwolves’ season came to an end in the regional semifinals on Friday afternoon, losing 4-3 to Kingwood Park in extra time. Jewell Resseguie scored all three goals for Cedar Park.
“We were 10 minutes away from a district title, we be the team that beat us last year in the playoffs, we made it to the regional tournament,” head coach Jeff Gamble said. “I told them early on that we can be better than last year’s team and they all looked at me like I was crazy.”
Cedar Park had 12 seniors on the roster this year, but not many of them had the experience playing regularly at the high school level. Gamble put players in different positions and players were returning from injury as the season started slowly.
As the year unfolded, they started to realize how potent the attack really was. And the unique, three-back defense started to come together and took form when senior center back Erika Longford returned from a torn ACL.
Months of early mornings paid off with the first trip to the regional tournament since 2015.
“The journey of them doing all that was awesome and fulfilling,” Gamble said.
The Lady Timberwolves beat Magnolia 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs before avenging last season’s playoff loss to College Station 2-1 in the second round and downing Tomball Memorial 1-0 in the regional quarterfinals.
Friday’s game was different altogether.
“It was probably the most physical game we’ve played all season,” Gamble said. “I was so proud to stand in the stadium and represent them as their coach because the fight they showed. The fans could see it that day, but that’s something I have seen all year long in the two-a-day sessions and the process that it would take to be great.”
Kingwood Park got a goal a little over 10 minutes into the game when Allie Byrd scored on the counter. Cedar Park had the wind in the second half, but that didn’t stop Byrd from making a 40-yard run through five people to double the lead five minutes into the second half.
The Lady Timberwolves cut the lead in half when Ellie Carr’s corner kick was deflected in by Resseguie. The St. Edward’s University-bound senior headed home the equalizer 10 minutes later.
The Lady Panthers retook the lead with a goal off a free kick.
Resseguie finished off the hat trick and forced overtime with another set-piece goal with a little over a minute left in regulation.
Cedar Park shifted to a four-back and defended in the first half of extra time with Resseguie and midfielder Ainsley Forbes resting on the bench. Gamble said the team said they were ready to go for broke in the second portion, so they put the most attacking players on the field.
Byrd made yet another run with one minute left in the game and finished from a tight angle for the game-winner.
“Most dominating performance I’ve seen from a player in years,” Gamble said. “Even when we played defense correctly against her, just out of individual greatness, she found a way to score. She was that type of player that can score goals when she wants.”
Gamble said the professional manner in which the group of 12 seniors approached trains sessions and workouts stood out. He added the Cedar Park junior varsity team was unbelievable this season, scoring almost 100 goals without giving one up.
While the stats from the young team were eye-popping, what they learned from the senior class might be even more valuable.
“Some junior varsity players came up and trained with us for the playoffs and they watched (the varsity team) play,” Gamble said. “That’s better than anything I can do as a coach to have them soak everything in look at the passion at which they played.”