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(Courtesy MISD Athletics)

PKs and heartbreak: Midlothian Heritage girls’ soccer ends incredible 5-year run in 3rd state championship match

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

GEORGETOWN — Dreams of a back-to-back fairytale came to a heartbreaking end for the Midlothian Heritage girls’ soccer team on Thursday.

Heritage walked onto the pitch at Bernard E. Birkelbach Field in Georgetown as the 4A girls’ soccer defending state champions. They exited exhausted, following a 5-and-3 penalty-kick loss.

The Jaguars trailed (29-1-1) Celina for most of the match, leading for just over five minutes during the two overtime periods. 

The Lady Bearcats scored in the 3rd minute and led (22-4-3) Midlothian Heritage by two goals twice (2-nil, 3-1). The two-goal deficit marked the largest for the Jaguars in any of their three state tournament appearances. They still yet to trail at the end of regulation and have now gone to overtime twice (2018, ’22). 

The Jaguars fell behind early in the first half of the state title match, trailing 2-nil following a Celina goal in the 30th minute. Senior forward Rose Giambruno-Fuge added her first of two goals a few minutes later to send the Jaguars into the halftime locker room trailing 2-1.

Celina’s Taylor Zdrojewski netted her second goal of the match to open the second. Zdrojewski was ultimately named the Most Valuable Player of the state title match with two goals, one assist and one PK. 

Heritage scored the final two goals of regulation to send the match into overtime tied at three. Sophomore Jules Burrows scored the first of her two goals by dribbling by three Celina defenders to beat the keeper with a shot to the far post in the 53rd minute. She added her second goal to give Heritage its only lead of the match, 4-3, in the 88′. 

Burrows has now scored five times during her state-tournament career, following her hat trick during Heritage’s 2021 title campaign. 

Heritage was just 6 minutes-and-change from repeating as the 4A state champion in its final season in Class 4A. That changed when a Zdrojewski cross-pitch assist found Brielle Buchanan for an easy tap-in goal from inside the box in the 94′. 

The late Celina goal in the second of two 10-minute overtime periods tied the match at 4-all and sent it into the dreaded penalty kicks.

It was quite evident at that point of the match that the Jaguars still had plenty left in the tank while the Lady Bearcats were gassed. 

Unfortunately, Heritage missed on its opening PK attempt and Celina found the back of the net on all five kicks for the “walk-off” win, 5-4. 

LISTEN to Heritage head coach Gerald Slovacek, Brynn Pollock and Sydney Dickson talk about the match on KBEC’s The Press Box here by clicking this link!

A LEGACY IN 4A

Sophomores Jules Burrows (midfielder) and Paisley Mabra (defender) were both named to the 4A Girls’ All-State Tournament Team for the second year, while Giambruno-Fuge received her first nod.

Burrows netted two goals in this year’s state title match, which follows her hat-trick in 2021 to move her state-tournament career-total to 5 goals scored.

The Jaguars had previously won the state championship — the first team title in Midlothian ISD history — in 2018. They raised a second state-title monument following a decisive run to a 2021 crown.

For the historians out there, the Midlothian Heritage girls’ soccer program has now competed in every state tournament minus two since their first title. 

The first came to a halt to eventual state-champion Stephenville in the regional tournament. The second “miss” was due to COVID-19 in 2020 — a season in which the Jaguars were the unquestioned top-team in the region and viewed around the state as the team to beat. 

ALMOST IN OVERTIME

Heritage dominated the time of possession to start the first overtime period, as it became quickly becoming apparent the Lady Bobcats were gassed.

As the clock dipped two one-minute to play in half one, Burrows again found herself in front of the goal with an opportunity to score. She was tackled and awarded a penalty kick, which was blocked rather firmly — but rolled out and back toward the sophomore. 

Burrows promptly buried the rebound for the 4-3 Heritage lead. It took 91 minutes, but the Jaguars had their first lead. 

The score held into the second 10-minute overtime period. It did not hold for much longer, unfortunately.

Celina’s Zdrojewski centered a ball from deep in the box to Bri Buchanan, who scored rather easily on an empty net with 6:52 to play. 

That would be the final real threat by either side during overtime, as the match headed to penalty kicks tied at 4-all. 

LISTEN to Heritage head coach Gerald Slovacek, Brynn Pollock and Sydney Dickson talk about the match on KBEC’s The Press Box here by clicking this link!

For those who’ve yet to experience a high school penalty shootout, each side receives five attempts per PK round. If the match is still tied after those five shots, another five are added until a winner is determined.

And, if you’ve gotten this far in the article, you are well aware of how that PK frame panned out. 

Midlothian Heritage missed its first. Celina netted all five. And we watched the Jaguars be draped in hard-earned silver medals. 

HOW REGULATION HAPPENED

Celina struck first on an unassisted Zdrojewski goal to the far post from 15 yards out in the 3′. 

A little later, Brynn Pollock’s first of two corner kicks in the 15′ nearly went in off a Joely Godfrey header, only to have Celina goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustafson dive to her right and get enough of a hand on the ball to send it out of play. The second Pollock corner resulted in a fruitless loose ball in front-of-goal.

It was apparent at that time, though, that Heritage had already decided to turn up the offensive pressure, despite battling a strong headwind.

Heritage then had several good centers in front-of-goal but couldn’t convert as the match entered the 25′. 

Celina created its own centering opportunity in the 26′ when Tanner Sorrenson lept to knock away a volley on goal. The ensuing corner kick was no real threat, and Heritage was back on the attack again — and quickly had yet another corner kick opportunity. It was, unfortunately, another missed opportunity. 

Celina struck again in the 29′ when Madi Vana fired a shot into the right upper-90 from 37 yards out. Her goal made it 2-nil, the largest deficit Heritage had faced in any of its two previous state championship appearances (1 in 2018, never trailed in 2021). 

Heritage returned the long-shot favor when Giambruno-Fuge found the back of the net and just under the crossbar from 22 yards out. The goal in the 38′ sent the two sides into the halftime locker with Celina clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Celina scored in the 52′ minute to push the Lady Bobcat lead to 3-1. The two-goal deficit marked the largest for the Lady Jaguars in any of their three state championship appearances 

That lead got a little smaller just 12 seconds later when Burrows sprinted by the Celina backfield for her first goal of the state title match. 

Burrows was later tackled by the Celina keeper on a clear breakaway in the 76′. The resulting yellow card forced a change in goal for the Lady Bobcats and set Giambruno-Fuge up for a potential-tying goal from 12 yards out.

The senior delivered, rolling her second goal in just inside the left post to knot the match at 3-all. The goal came with 3:23 to play in regulation. 

LISTEN to Heritage head coach Gerald Slovacek, Brynn Pollock and Sydney Dickson talk about the match on KBEC’s The Press Box here by clicking this link!

_____

Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

tsmith@kbec.com

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith serves as the digital sports director for KBEC Sports. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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