With district play right around the corner, the Sherman Lady Bearcats made sure the schedule reflected what they were about to face in order to try and make the soccer playoffs.
And while Sherman came up short against Midlothian, 6-0, in the non-district finale at Bearcat Stadium, the Lady Bearcats feel good about the strides they have made since last season.
“We’ve played better and improved. There’s only four starters back from last year so it’s a totally different team,” first-year head coach Chance Hawkins said. “Each year’s a new year. Each team’s a new team. We’re going to play to the best of our abilities.”
Sherman (5-8), which won eight matches combined the previous two seasons, opens District 10-5A play at Princeton on Tuesday night.
Kaleigh Naizer scored twice and had an assist for Midlothian (8-1-2), whose only loss is 2-1 to Highland Park and has scoreless ties with San Antonio Alamo Heights and Rockwall-Heath.
“We’ve played our two toughest games this past week,” Hawkins said. “They’re really good and we wanted a tough non-district match-up because we have tough teams to prepare for in this district. This gave us a good test and see stuff we need to be better at heading into district.”
Sherman came out in the second half much sharper but was unable to cut into the deficit.
The Lady Bearcats had their chances. A few minutes into the half Bailey Tillotson’s free kick from the right side went untouched through the box and five minutes after that her short cross was headed by Carmen Ramirez just outside the right post.
Midlothian had just one shot on goal in the first 18 minutes of the second half and Kylee Dunbar made the low save straight at her. She had two more stops near the middle of the half before the Lady Panthers made it 5-0 with a little more than 21 minutes remaining.
In the final 15 minutes Tillotson tried to set up Ramirez and Jade Burns while Burns sent a ball for Sandra Marin but the Lady Bearcats couldn’t avoid the shutout.
Brooklyn Davis, who had a point-blank shot stopped by Dunbar with 13 minutes to go, closed the scoring three minutes later when she one-timed home a cross by Naizer.
Midlothian got all the scoring it needed in the first four minutes of the match. Naizer started it off with a goal from a shot just inside the top of the box on the left-hand side and then two minutes later she dribbled into the box on the right side and connected with Tori Sorrels to give Midlothian the 2-0 lead.
Sherman settled down after the Lady Panthers’ early push but struggled to gain possession at the other end of the field.
The Lady Bearcats’ best chance in the first half came when Tillotson took a free kick about 12 yards outside the box on the left side and the shot just went over the crossbar nine minutes into the match.
Sherman had a couple other opportunities to get behind the Midlothian defense but the passes missed their mark or the Lady Panthers recovered in time. Ramirez made a run with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half but her pass to the middle was blocked. The same happened with two minutes left before the break.
Mariah Griffin gave Midlothian a 3-0 advantage in the middle of the first half. Emma Best’s shot from the left side went off the right post and directly to Griffin, who knocked in the ricochet for the goal.
Dunbar and Brandy Moran combined to keep the deficit at three when Dunbar came out to challenge a long pass to Allyson Gibbs and got there in just enough time to allow Moran to recover and clear the ball out of bounds before Gibbs had a shot on the open net.
Naizer headed the ensuing corner over the crossbar but made it 4-0 on a free kick with less than four minutes to go in the opening half.