The Apache Ladies survived a 20-minute offensive power surge Sunday by rival Navarro College to claim a 2-1 win and the Division I Region XIV soccer championship at Pat Hartley Soccer Complex.
Tyler Junior College also earned the right to play host for the District Tournament playoffs Friday and Saturday.
The schedule for that tournament has TJC playing Cisco Junior College at 4 p.m. and Navarro playing Northern Oklahoma 2 p.m. on Friday. The winners of those two games are scheduled to play in the championship at 6 p.m. Saturday. The district winner advances to the national tournament.
It is then possible for TJC and Navarro to meet again — which would be the fourth time this season.
“We’ll get another shot at them and that’s the one that counts,” Navarro coach Aric Bonner told his players after the game.
Navarro upset TJC 3-1 in a September match in Corsicana and then TJC beat the Lady Bulldogs 2-0 in Tyler earlier this month.
“This was a good match,” said TJC coach Corey Rose, whose team improved to 15-2-2. “We just might see them again, but first we must focus on Cisco, a team we tied with after two overtimes the last time we met.”
TJC’s Stacie Murray got the Apache Ladies on the scoreboard in the first half of Sunday’s game on an assist from Alice Coyne. The team would take the 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Apache Ladies added some insurance on a penalty kick by Jahmela Williams early in the second half, but the Lady Bulldogs responded about 10 minutes later with a score of their own from Emily Sumrall.
Until that point, it was if the crowd of nearly 275 fans had been watching a re-run of the previous match, but then it was as if someone poked a sleeping bear.
With about 20 minutes left in the game, the Lady Bulldogs came alive taking five shots on goal and three corner kicks.
One corner kick gave Navarro midfielder Jodian Morris a good shot for the goal, but was denied a score on a key save by TJC goalie Kat VanMeter.
“Our goal keeper kept us in this game,” Rose said.
The intensity of the last 20 minutes kept the crowd and the coaches on their feet, but in the end TJC was able to thwart the attack.
“I don’t know what it is,” Bonner said. “We wait too late to decide to play soccer. You just can’t do stuff like that against a team like TJC.”
TJC ended the game with a total of eight shots on goal, four keeper saves, and eight corner kicks. Navarro tallied seven shots on goal, six keeper saves, and five corner kicks.
SMOKE SIGNALS: The men’s district soccer tournament is also at TJC. The Apaches play Meridian (Miss.) at 6 p.m. Friday, with Pearl River (Miss.) and Paris to follow at 8 p.m. The semifinal winners will meet in the district championship at 3 p.m. Saturday. The winner advances to the national championship. … The Southwest Junior College Football Conference semifinals on Saturday have Tyler playing at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (2 p.m.); and Kilgore hosting Navarro (3 p.m.).