Robert E. Lee girls soccer coach Chris Woodard warned his players at halftime about the dangers of complacency with a two-goal lead.
The Lady Raiders did not heed his warning.
Mesquite Horn’s Megan Coppedge assisted her team’s first and scored two herself, the final one coming with six minutes remaining to stun Lee, 3-2, Wednesday at Pat Hartley Soccer Complex.
“They came out and played hard the second half and we just came out and kind of walked around thinking the game was over,” Woodard said. “I told them 2-0 is one of the worst leads you can have because a goal gets scored and a momentum changer and (we) never got it back.”
The loss denies Lee (4-2-2, 15 pts) an opportunity to pull closer to league-leading Longview. The Lady Lobos (5-0-3, 19 pts) managed one point Tuesday in their match against North Mesquite. Mesquite Horn raises its district record to 4-4 and now has 12 points to move ahead of Mesquite for the fourth and final playoff spot.
This game was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but a rainout, Spring Break and another rain out pushed it to Wednesday. The Lady Raiders were dealt bad news before the ball was ever kicked when starting goalkeeper Allie Telscher was ruled out because of a back injury.
That meant a first-ever varsity start for freshman Alyson Johnson. She rose to the occasion, stopping six shots she faced in the first 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Lee managed three shots on goal, but scored on two of them. Junior forward Brooke Johnston received a long pass from Abby Halbrook to put her behind the defense and REL’s top goal scorer used clinical finishing for her 15th of the season.
The Lady Raiders doubled their lead at the halfway mark of the half when senior forward Taylor Tillson outmuscled a defender for a long ball before sliding her shot under the onrushing keeper for her sixth goal of the season.
REL had one more opportunity with Halbrook lofting in a corner to the back post, but Julia Harrison’s open header missed just wide.
The teams changed sides to begin the second half and seemingly changed roles. Whereas Lee was the aggressor in the first 45 minutes, the Lady Jaguars dominated possession in the second half.
Woodard changed goalkeepers, inserting sophomore Madi McCann into net for her first varsity action. Horn immediately began testing McCann and their pressure was rewarded when Coppedge crossed a perfect ball into Abi Weisbrod, whose header left McCann no chance.
The tension and pressure continued with Lee unable to maintain possession outside of its half. Finally with 23 minutes remaining, Coppedge tried her luck from 35 yards out and the long ball skimmed the top of McCann’s fingers and went in to tie the game.
The Lady Raiders earned a corner kick and Harrison again was found for a header. This one beat the keeper and looked destined for the back of the net, if not for a late interception from a Horn defender, who cleared it off the line.
With eight minutes to play, Johnston got behind the Horn defense and fired a shot, but this time the keeper was able to deflect it away.
Horn completed the rally minutes later when Haley Hicks raced down a ball in the corner and was able to cross it into Coppedge, who settled and fired a low shot that beat Johnson — replaced McCann after the second goal — at her near post for the match winner.
The Lady Raiders next face DeSoto on “Senior Night” Friday before closing out the regular season against Longview.
Woodard said his team’s goal of a district title is still there despite Wednesday’s loss, but REL has to pick itself up and play better.
“We’ve got some games still left and the playoffs coming up and we’ve got some young players,” Woodard said. “They have to figure it out and realize they’ve got to play the whole time.”