MABTON - The Connell Eagles scored two goals in the final 12 minutes of play to escape with a 2-1 victory over the Mabton High School girls soccer team last night, Tuesday.
Mabton kept Connell out of the goal for most of the night and led 1-0 before they finally gave way to fatigue.
"I think the Lady Vikings are finally realizing that when they are at their best they can compete with the best," Mabton Coach Lucia Tovar said.
Both sides had their opportunities in the first half of play but the defenses came up golden each time. Tovar said the Viking defense was constantly beating the Eagles to the ball, hustling and trying to move it up field.
With the score tied at zero at halftime Tovar said the Mabton coaching staff told the team they believed in them. Tovar said it was made clear to the team that it was no longer acceptable to be content to not let Connell score. Mabton had to score itself.
Five minutes into the second half the Vikings heeded their coaches' call when Alma Leon got the better of the Connell keeper.
Tovar said Leon was able to get the ball past the Eagle keeper when the Connell player came out of her goal to grab a loose ball. The Connell keeper ended up mishandling the ball and Leon was there to take advantage of it. Mabton led 1-0 after that.
After playing intense defense for 68 minutes the Lady Vikings finally made a mistake that Connell took advantage of.
The Eagles' Brianna Casper broke away from her defender and picked up a long pass from a teammate. Casper found herself in a one-on-one situation with Mabton keeper Teresa Flores. Casper was able to score and Connell found itself tied again with the Vikings.
Eleven minutes later Casper helped her team avoid overtime when she took advantage of some confusion on the field during a corner kick. Casper was able to scoop up the ball and put it past Flores, giving Connell a 2-1 lead.
Flores finished with 14 saves on the night. The Vikings managed five shots on Connell's goal.
"I must say I am very proud of how the girls are starting to play as a team," Tovar said. "As far as Teresa Flores, our keeper, I can't say enough about what a great game she continues to have. She was complimented even from Connell coaches, players and parents. It was a good game."
Mabton (0-4, 0-6) will travel to play Warden on Thursday, Sept. 24, for a 4 p.m. match.