Kingwood Park punches ticket to State in thriller

 

HOUSTON – When the final seconds ticked off the clock, Jess White fell to the turf and stayed there as his team rushed past him.

Allie Byrd scored two goals, Libby Overmyer allowed just one goal and for a second-straight year, Kingwood Park punched its ticket to the UIL State Soccer Tournament with a 2-1 victory against Pflugerville on Saturday at Turner Stadium.

“It’s big, these girls worked so hard,” White said with tears welling up in his eyes. “I just want them to have that opportunity.”

Kingwood Park will play in a state semifinal on Thursday, April 18, at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown.

“This means a lot,” Byrd said. “Because this year’s team is not that different than last year’s team and I think that we’ve had same mindset to go into every game ready to compete. We’ve put in the work.”

Pflugerville (24-2-1) struck first in the seventh minute when Kyndahl Britton fired a penalty kick past the outstretched hand of Overmyer, making it 1-0.

With just three minutes left in the first half, Kingwood Park responded with its first goal of the match. Byrd took advantage of a penalty kick, firing it into the top corner, tying the game at 1-1.

After a back forth second half, Byrd got another chance with a penalty called in the box on a direct kick with just over five minutes to go. Byrd lined up and fired a penalty kick, which Pflugerville goalkeeper Lauren Banning stopped.

“I thought that was it, that was the chance to win the game,” Byrd said.

Despite her getting to it, Banning was called for moving off the line, which gave Byrd another chance.

Byrd didn’t miss for her second goal of the day and 91st of her career, making it 2-1.

“She’s not going to miss two in a row,” White said.

With 2:09 left in the match, a foul was called against Kingwood Park in the box, giving Pflugerville a chance to tie it and potentially send the match to overtime.

Makenzie Harvey lined up for the penalty kick, ran in, fired it towards the bottom right corner, where Overmyer was waiting to knock it away with her outstretched arms on a dive.

“We’ve been practicing all of playoffs, we hit penalty kicks two or three times a week,” White said. “All of them hit them against Libby, Sam (Valadez) and AJ. The keepers have been doing a really good job. Each of our keepers have stepped up in high profile games. Sam helped us get to the regionals, AJ put in some quality minutes yesterday and Libby today.”

The save by Overmyer ended up being the difference in the end that helped Kingwood Park secure its second-straight state berth.

“I thought that was big time,” Byrd said. “She’s done really well in the playoffs and stepped up for us in the playoffs.”

Kingwood Park, which fell to Frisco Wakeland – the eventual Class 5A State Champion  – did so in the state semifinals.

So, heading back to Georgetown for the Panthers has a bit of an unfinished business theme to it.

“We definitely want to come home with a state championship title this year,” Byrd said.

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