Rouse, Vandegrift advance to regional finals

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Any trepidation Rouse had about facing a team for the third time this season faded as soon as the whistle blew Tuesday night.

The Lady Raiders shut out Hutto for the third time this season, beating the Lady Hippos 3-0 in the regional semifinals Tuesday night at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex. Rouse beat Hutto 4-0 and 2-0 in their two meetings during the regular season.

“Typically when you play a team three times, the odds shift in their favor,” Rouse head coach Katie Kistner said. “It scared us more. Teams think they’ve got it the first two times and they can win again. The girls came out and knew what was at stake and came out stayed positive, worked for each other and created opportunities.”

Charlotte Wilson opened the scoring for Rouse, slotting home a rebound after missing a penalty kick with 10 minutes left int elf first half. Haley Hoppe scored doubled the lead when she headed in a corner kick midway through the second half and then scored her second of the game with seven minutes remaining.

It’s the tenth straight game in which the Lady Raiders haven’t given up a goal dating back to their 2-1 win against East View on Valentine’s Day.

“Our defense is really organized and they work their butts off and know how each other plays,” Kistner said. “They have so many different strengths and we have the speed back there. As a group, they can be pretty unstoppable.”

Wilson drew the penalty after being brought down in the box after a throw-in. Wilson’s low penalty pushed aside by the Hutto keeper, but she was right there to hop on the loose ball and go around her for the goal.

Hoppe scored her 32nd goal of the year after a perfect corner kick from Abby Forster in the second half. She finished off her brace with a shot to the upper right corner with seven minutes left. She has scored in all but one game for Rouse this season.

While Hoppe scores a lot of goals, it’s the rest of the team that is helping set her up for the goals. The Lady Raiders’ speedy wingers, including Alivia Sparschu on Tuesday night, created chances for Hoppe to put away.

“I feel like it’s a good role because I want to work hard for the team and I feel like I’m doing my part,” Sparschu said. “It makes me feel good that I’m playing in my role. Even though she scores, I feel proud because I feel like I helped too and the whole team puts in hard work.”

Sparschu is second on the team wit nine goals and has a pair of assists. Of the district-best 69 goals the Lady Raiders have scored in the regular season and playoffs, 45 of them have come with an assist.

“The main reason we do so well is when we get on the field, we work for each other,” Sparschu said. “We’re all so close and we’re like a family on the field. We can just go as far as we can and spend as much time with our seniors and everybody on the team as we can.”

The Lady Raiders continue the playoffs in the regional finals on Friday against Nederland, which beat Lumberton 6-5 in penalty kicks in the regional quarterfinals in Beaumont on Tuesday.

The game is set to kick off at 11 a.m. at Turner Stadium in Humble.

“We were never previously ranked and maybe teams are starting to see we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Kistner said. “Hopefully this will continue in the future, but we have to focus on the next game. We’re not worried about next year, we’re worried about right now.”

The Vandegrift also advanced, beating San Antonio Reagan 8-7 on penalty kicks in Hays Tuesday night. Reagan scored in the first half and Vandegrift tied things up in the second to force extra time.

They will meet undefeated District 30-6A champions McAllen, which beat Harlingen South 1-0 in the quarterfinals, in the regional finals Friday at 3 p.m. in San Antonio.

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