Though they couldn’t break through and end one streak, the Lake Travis girls soccer team battled No. 2 Westlake and made a mark that only two other teams have achieved this season.
Freshman Katie Werdenberg scored a goal with 11:34 left in the first half on a pass from Anna Vidakovic to notch the first goal scored against Westlake in district play this season. It was just the third goal scored against the nationally-ranked Chaparrals this season. Westlake reasserted itself after the goal and went on to a commanding 7-1 win Tuesday night at Lake Travis.
“I was incredibly excited; I know Westlake is a top team, and they haven’t been scored on all [district] season,” Werdenberg said. “I thought we played really well as a team, but Westlake’s a top team, so they’re far ahead of the curve on everyone else.”
Senior Aubri Detmer nearly got to the ball in the corner and had a great spot to watch it unfold, giving the Lady Cavaliers a reason to cheer in an otherwise tough match against one of the favorites to win the state title this season.
“This was a good test for us because this is going to be like the teams we’re playing in playoffs,” Detmer said. “We didn’t really do as well as we wanted to, but we still played good together as a team. We just kind of pulled apart and weren’t together on defense as much this time.”
Although Lake Travis lost to Westlake 3-0 the first time around, the Lady Cavs walked off the pitch feeling better about their performance this time around as they played more aggressively and tried to attack whenever possible.
However, the attacks left the field open for Westlake to counter attack, leading to the scoring frenzy.
“In a weird way, we actually played a little bit better than we did last time,” Lake Travis girls soccer coach Jeff Gamble said. “Last time, we were in our own end and it was hard for Westlake to find space. Obviously, when you open up the field, you create space and their players are so gifted and have such good first touch and vision, when we created that space we had trouble defending that space we created when we lost the ball.”
Lake Travis now prepares for its first playoffs as a Class 5A team, but the squad has Friday off while the rest of district plays, leaving the Lady Cavs to wait and see if they finish second or third in District 15-5A, with Westlake already having clinched the district title.
“It was good for us; it was good to see that, and it’s a good learning experience,” Gamble said. “[Westlake] played fantastic. They’re phenomenal, and all the credit in the world to them.”
The bidistrict playoff match against a District 16-5A team will be between March 28-30.
“We’ve been working really hard to be more offensive and it felt good to go and actually get counter attacks and shoot on the goal,” Detmer said. “We can score against the good teams. We just have to work on our defense against them now and be more pulled together whenever we do get to go attack and have our defense push up and our midfield be more defensive when we do lose the ball.”
Werdenberg, one of several underclassman on the club this season, was only called up four or five games ago to join the varsity and has quickly made a mark. As soon as the let the kick go from the right side she knew it was going in, and it did, curling just inside the far left post for the score.
“I saw the ball go into Anna and saw an opportunity for a layoff, so I started sprinting towards it and kicked it as hard as I could hoping it would go in,” she said. “I did [know it was going in]. I could picture it as I kicked it.”
As the younger and veteran players alike have gotten more used to each other, the Lady Cavaliers (7-3-2 in district) have improved on the field, and the team plans to continue that trend into the playoffs.
“We got a lot better,” Detmer said. “We started off kind of rough. We have a lot of young players and a really new team, and it was something we’re not used to.”
In order to succeed in the playoffs, Lake Travis will have to balance its attacking with sturdy defense that eluded them at times Tuesday night.
“Our problem all year has been attacking and possession,” Gamble said. “We’ve always been an OK defending team … So we’ve been working really hard on counter attacking and possession and getting the ball wide. We did some of that tonight, and some if it looked good, but the down side to that is if you’re not confident at it and don’t hold the ball for long periods of time, that space develops and if you don’t keep everybody together, which we didn’t at times, you open yourself up to counter attacks.”
The Lady Cavs honored their seniors before the game – Allie Stone, Becca Daves, Katie Eaton, Hayley Miesse, Kelli McCalla and Detmer.
“We’re real excited to start playoffs,” Detmer said. “I think we’ve got it down and feel confident going into playoffs.”
We welcome your comments on our stories but will publish only those that do not violate our commenting guidelines