DRIPPING SPRINGS — A strong second half wasn’t enough to propel the Vista Ridge girls’ soccer team.
Despite falling behind by three goals, the Lady Rangers scored a late goal and continued to push the tempo, eventually falling to San Antonio Johnson 3-1 Thursday evening at Dripping Springs High School.
“I’m proud we didn’t give up,” Vista Ridge head coach Kristin Stone said. “We could’ve laid down and died. The two goals in the first half were miscommunications and we weren’t marking like we should. We were making them look better by not marking.”
Vista Ridge battled injuries throughout the season to reach the playoffs, qualifying as the No. 4 team from District 25-6A after winning four of its last six regular-season games.
Johnson jumped out to an early lead after a low cross was poked in the bottom corner past a diving Vista Ridge goalkeeper Erin Clawson 16 minutes into the game. The Lady Jaguars pounced on a mistake by the Lady Rangers and doubled their lead three minutes later.
“The halftime speech was about playing our game,” Stone said. “The first half we were frazzled and chasing and that’s not how we play. We just calmed down and were better marking and talking and played like the team I know we can be.”
Johnson scored early in the second half with a fantastic effort as the forward cut back in front of goal and fired the ball towards the near post.
“The (Johnson forwards) were fast and it made the midfield come back and help them,” Stone said. “Then we wouldn’t have any offense. So the message at halftime was to trust the defense and help each other out.”
Natalie Mercado’s looping header bounced off the crossbar midway through the second half and senior forward Hallie Rutherford was there to head home the rebound.
The Lady Rangers pushed hard for the final 15 minutes of the game, but couldn’t crack the Johnson defense.
This was Stone’s seventh season at the helm at Vista Ridge, so she’s had this crop of seniors the whole four years. Two of them have been on the varsity team from the end of their freshman seasons.
“They’re like my babies so it’s going to be sad to see them go,” she said. “I’m very proud of all of them. They’re going places and they’re all going to college and they’re an awesome group of kids.”