- Thomas Jones, American-Statesman Staff
When Westwood's Madison Larrea slotted home a shot with less than a minute left in extra time at Buffalo Stadium, the Warriors did more than celebrate a hard-fought 1-0 win over Klein in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
They let out a collective sigh of relief.
"I think we were confident that we'd eventually score because we held the ball for so long, but we were getting a little frustrated because we couldn't put the ball in the back of the net," Larrea said after Tuesday's match. "We didn't want to go to PKs, and I think we deserved to win this. I'm just glad we were able to finish it."
Larrea's goal in the 110th minute on a cross from Olivia Graves gave Westwood the win it earned, based on how the Warriors dominated possession and the flow of the match. The Warriors (13-3-4) fired off 14 shots, including nine on frame.
In comparison, Klein only had one shot against Westwood freshman keeper Madison Broadbent.
Westwood's struggles to finish were about the only things this season that hampered the Warriors, who finished second in District 13-6A behind Round Rock. Westwood has only given up nine goals this season but entered Tuesday's playoff game with just 33 goals, which included a 6-0 win against an overmatched Elgin team in nondistrict play.
"We've struggled to score all year," Westwood coach Malcolm Framjee said. "I knew that if we could just get that one goal, we'd probably score three or four because we played the entire match on their half of the field.
"When we scored, there was certainly a little bit of relief. I was just making sure that everyone didn't run onto the field to celebrate too early."
The win over Klein (14-5-1) had a little extra meaning for the Warriors, who lost 1-0 to the Bearkats in the second round a year ago. However, Larrea downplayed any vengeance as motivation, saying "we knew they were a different team, and we were a different team. We just wanted to come in here and play our hearts out."
The Warriors' defense, keyed by Texas Lutheran signee Sarah Frank and Houston Baptist signee Caroline Gillispie, certainly showed heart while clamping down on the dangerous Klein duo of Gillian Cole and Micah Beasley, who had combined for 35 goals entering the match.
According to Framjee, such effort has keyed the Warriors' fourth trip to the regional quarterfinals in the past five years. Westwood has endured a wave of injuries, including a gruesome broken leg suffered by junior forward Autumn Koch in a district match against Stony Point earlier this season.
"It's been a tough year with injuries," he said. "We've fielded a different lineup almost every match, but this team is very resilient. This is the closest team family-wise that I've been a part of, and it shows with the way they play."
Westwood faced Houston Memorial Friday in a Class 6A Region II quarterfinal contest. Memorial eliminated defending state champion Hendrickson Tuesday, 3-1.