Varsity Girls Soccer Advance to Round Four Playoffs After Dramatic Showdown Against Vipers

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  • Running up to the stands to celebrate with friends and family, the Warriors are elated by their win. The win was especially important for seniors who had their seasons cut short by Covid in the past and now had the opportunity to play again as a team in the state playoffs.

  • Getting ready to trap the ball, Ella Toupin ’23 focuses on keeping the ball in bounds. After she she got control of the ball, she passed it down to the line to another teammate.

  • Using her body to guard her ball possession against the Viper, Katherine Cooper ’24 dribbles for a breakaway. Throughout the game, Cooper had multiple opportunities and took shots at the goal.

  • Running onto the field after a substitution, co-captain Sasha Brown ’23 adjusts her armband. During the game, Brown went into many side tackles which showcased her physicality.

  • Looking back to the crowd, Katherine Cooper ’24 rejoices over the win. Since the team had practiced penalty kicks so often during practice, many players were hopeful for the shootout round.

  • Moments after Mia Bibbo ’23 scored the winning goal, the Warriors pile on top of each other to celebrate this win. The game ended with a 4-2 penalty kick shootout for the Warriors.

  • Seniors Ella Toupin and Abigail Burgett go in for the tackle to get the Viper player off the ball. Only through good communication were such plays a success in the game.

  • Focusing intently, Mia Wiele ’26 thinks of her next play. After the Viper put pressure on her, Wiele switched directions, did a move, and tricked the other team so she could dribble to the goal.

  • Freshman Kaleia Coughlin runs back to regain control of the ball. After the brief fight for possession, Coughlin was shoved to the ground by the Viper and then moved across the field to become an option for a pass.

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On Friday, March 28, the varsity girls’ soccer team advanced to the fourth round of state playoffs with a 4-2 penalty shootout win against the Vandegrift Vipers. Both teams battled it out to the bitter end in a nail-biting, extremely physical match.

From the start of the game, the level of competition was very high between both teams. Vandegrift has been one of Westwood’s biggest rivals – throughout the past few regular seasons, they have repeatedly tied each other. 

Throughout the game, the Warriors had a sense of urgency as they repeatedly advanced toward the goal, especially aided by free kicks and shots by defenders and midfielders. The referee seemed to take no chances of letting the teams get too physical and frequently blew her whistle at a foul to grant the other team a free kick. 

Since both teams had played each other many times before, they were wary of the errors they made last and could often size up their opponent and mark the other players. However, with 13 minutes left in the first half on a corner kick, a Viper player shot the first goal of the night against the Warriors. 

At the start of the second half, the Warriors reappeared on the field, seemingly reenergized to give it their all. The remaining time in the half seemed to be very closely matched as both teams continued to fight for ball possession and tried to take shots on goal. With the time slowly trickling down to the single-digit numbers, it seemed as though Vandegrift would be winning the game and moving forward to round four.

However, at a turning point, with five minutes left on the clock, Katherine Cooper ‘24 dribbled to the box to shoot but was fouled from behind by a Viper. The referee called a penalty kick for the Warriors, and defender Kate Wyrick ‘25 was chosen to take the shot. It seemed like the whole audience was holding their breath as they were anticipating Wyrick’s shot. Wyrick took a deep breath, and as soon as she shot the goal, the Westwood student section erupted. Drowning out the larger Vandegirft student section, cheers of “Olé, Olé, Olé” could be heard echoing across the stadium. 

“I think we really just wanted it more,” Wyrick said. “[The game] went off rocky in the beginning but we really pulled through in the end. I feel like after they scored, I think we got a little bit down on ourselves, but [we knew we’ve won games against them before] so we knew it was possible. I was really proud of everyone.”

Following this spectacular shot and change of luck for the Warriors, after the buzzer went off, the teams continued to battle into overtime to advance to the fourth round of the state playoffs. As both two ten-minute periods of play ended with no goals for either team, it seemed as if the game would have to be decided by penalty kicks.

The Vipers shot first against Notre Dame commit goalkeeper Atlee Olofson ‘23 but completely overshot and missed the goal. Moving from her spot in the goal to behind the ball, Olofson took the next shot. As Wyrick and Padt Skwratananond ‘23 scored the next two goals, totaling the score to 3-2 for Westwood, the crowd continued to erupt in cheers and chants. Olofson returned to the goal, saving a shot aimed at the bottom left corner of the goal. Senior Mia Bibbo took the last shot against the Viper goalie, and as she watched the ball roll into the net, the crowd went wild.

“Well, whenever it went into overtime, I think it was a new set of energy that came through the players because everyone was really tired,” Bibbo said. “The energy was really really high. As the overtime started going down, I started getting nervous because I knew I was going to have to take a [penalty kick]. I was pretty nervous at first but I had a lot of confidence and thought I could make it. When I took it, it felt like a whole hour watching the ball roll into the goal – because I was so nervous. As soon as I saw the ball hit the net, it was the best feeling better. It’s a big mental game – it’s not really hard to shoot at the goal, it’s just having the confidence to do it.”

This dramatic and hard-fought 4-2 win for Westwood in the knockout round meant advancing to the fourth round of state playoffs. The Warriors will play against Sandra O’Connell High School in San Antonio on Friday, April 7, at 1:00 p.m.