“What I tell these girls all the time is they have to be them,” Shipman said. “Our attack has gotten better all year, we’re able to play strong defense and when you get three goals in a playoff game, I’ll take that every day.”
Tompkins wanted to start fast.
After waiting for 84 minutes to score their first goal against George Ranch in the bi-district round the Flacons wanted to make sure they did everything possible to keep from that again.
Valentina Gianinetto made sure Tompkins didn’t have to deal with any type of scoring drought on Tuesday, as the sophomore scored two goals, the first of which came in the 24th minute, en route to a 3-1 Falcons win over Bellaire in the Class 6A Area round at Legacy Stadium.
“The game plan was to go out and be aggressive from the first kick,” said Tompkins head coach Jarrett Shipman. “We had the wind at our back and we wanted to go at the and get up early since we knew we had that. It took us a bit to find the back of the net, but once we did, we were able to take advantage of it and get further ahead.”
The wind was a factor, blowing around 20 miles per hour during the game, and with it at their back, Tompkins was on the front foot from the start, creating chances and pressing Bellaire as they attempted to gain the lead. The team took shots at every opportunity and it paid ff in the 24th minute, when one of those shots bounced off the goalkeeper and went right to Gianinetto, who scored on the rebound to give the Falcons the lead.
“We came in with the mindset that we had to jump on this early and take care of business,” Gianinetto said. “We didn’t make it past this point last year so we wanted to come back stronger than we were last week and we definitely did it. We’ve been working on some things all season and it just seemed to all come together today.”
Tompkins gained some cushion in the 38th minute. Gabrielle Panter found herself with space from 25 yards out and chipped the keeper, putting the Falcons in a great position heading into halftime.
“Having that 2-0 lead at halftime, we really talked about how we could sit in and let the game come to us. It let us slow things down with a lead, especially with Bellaire being such a good counter attacking team. We knew that if we sat in and waited, we would get another opportunity.”
That opportunity came early in the second half, as Tompkins was able to break on a counter attack and create a good chance, with Bellaire’s keeper making the initial save but Gianinetto again waiting for the rebound opportunity to get her second goal of the game.
“I was ready and I knew I needed to take advantage of those when I got them,” Gianinetto said. “Last game, we had so many rebounds and we weren’t able to take advantage of it. I just came out expecting anything from the keeper and I stayed on my toes so I could take advantage of them.”
Bellaire was able to pull one back, but that was the only damage done, as the Falcons advanced to the regional quarterfinals after failing to do so last season.
“Last year, all those seniors we felt awful and were all in tears for them,” said junior goalkeeper Gaby Vazquez. “This year, we’re just such a tight knit team that we are able to fight through these moments and bring each other up to get through it. We brought the right mindset today, we played amazing and it was one of the best games I’ve seen us pay. We knew we needed to make it through to the next round.”
The Falcons advance to the regional quarterfinals, where they will face Stratford with a chance to advance to the regional tournament.
“What I tell these girls all the time is they have to be them, when they go out and do their thing they are great,” Shipman said. “Our attack has gotten better all year, we’re able to play strong defense and when you get three goals in a playoff game, I’ll take that every day.”
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