Lady Oilers eliminate Friendswood 1-0 in soccer playoffs

PEARLAND — All it takes is one goal and a suffocating defense to win a soccer game and that is exactly how the Pearland Lady Oilers knocked off the Friendswood Lady Mustangs by the score of 1-0 in the Class 6A Region III playoffs at Challenger Columbia Stadium.

Pearland's McKenzie Rizqi got a one-on-one opportunity against Friendswood goalkeeper Katie Reyes and managed to send a shot into the back left corner of the net for a 1-0 Pearland lead with 16:08 left in the first half.

The No. 13 state-ranked Lady O's turned to their defense to thwart any offense by the Lady Mustangs to hold on for the win and advance to the second round.

"It was nice to get that goal fairly early," Pearland head coach Elise Karlowicz said. "We were peppering the goal, and then to finally have one fall was a relief for the girls.

"After that, we still wanted to play aggressive. Friendswood kept the pressure on with the wind, and they were in our half of the field a lot. We just wanted to be solid in the back."

Pearland's Kayla Izaguirre had a couple of opportunities to score for the Lady Oilers in the first half, but the Friendswood defense stepped up to make a save on one shot while another shot missed the mark wide on the attempt.

"We had a hard time maintaining possession in the attacking third and turned the ball over a lot in the middle third to the attacking third, and just couldn't create any good chances in front of the goal," Friendswood head coach Laura Peter said.

"We were giving too much space and not marking tight enough in the first half, and that's what led to their goal, but they're very good, they're fast, they're skilled, they do everything quick," Peter said. "We knew we were going to have to play very well to hang with them."

Friendswood showed some life in the second half knowing they only needed one goal to tie up the match, but they couldn't capitalize on a couple of scoring opportunities.

A corner shot was too high for a header. About six minutes later, Friendswood's Joanne Kaouk had a good look at the goal, but Pearland's defense deflected the shot on goal away.

Pearland missed a couple of scoring opportunities, but the 1-0 score stood for the Lady Oilers to advance to the area round to face the Deer Park Lady Deer.

The Lady Mustangs return 18 varsity players next year, and will also enjoy a drop from Class 6A to Class 5A.

"The potential is there, and the future looks good for us dropping to 5A will definitely help," Peter said. "I feel like this year, in particular, it took a lot longer than it ever has to move people around to fit in the right places.

"There was a lot of inconsistency, and that happens with youth. But they've all grown, and I look forward to working with these kids next year. I'm excited to have that many back, and I'm proud of the way they progressed this season."