Kingwood Park punches ticket to UIL State Soccer Tournament
4/15/2018 3:15 PM

Nothing was going to stand in the way of Kingwood Park’s bid for history.

Not an undefeated Tomball squad nor a 2 ½ hour weather delay would keep the Lady Panthers from a bid to the UIL State Tournament.

Leah Hoyt and Allie Byrd each scored a goal and Kingwood Park defeated Tomball 2-1 for the Region III-5A Championship on Saturday at Turner Stadium.

"We said anything worth having is going to take a lot of effort," Kingwood Park coach Jess White said. "It's not going to come easy. I wanted it bad for them. We had the support. We waited a long time, these fans waited a long time, all these people waited a long time as well. They stepped up and supported each other well."

Kingwood Park joins Kingwood as the only Humble ISD women’s soccer team to advance to the state tournament.

Kingwood was last at the state tournament in 2004.

"It's amazing, they've been on a great journey the entire way," Humble ISD Assistant Athletic Director Paul Hinson said. "They've been tough, they've battled back from adversity, injuries and things like that. Watching them is just the epitome of what their coach, Jess White, and his assistant Luke Gorney bring. They represent that and they play their tail off all the time. It's a well-deserved honor for sure."

Kingwood Park has rattled off 20-straight victories heading into its first-ever UIL Girls Soccer State Tournament appearance.

Tomball suffered its first loss of the season, which puts its final record at 21-1-5 for the season.

"It's my 15th year and I said it and I meant it, I've never been more proud of a group of kids," Tomball coach Martha Freisleben said. "They bought in from day one. We only had 15 on our roster throughout the varsity season. We pulled up four JV kids and two of them saw a tremendous amount of minutes in the playoffs.

"You just saw heart and that's what athletics is all about. It's fun when that matters and that's what our season was."

After getting the match final started after a 1 hour and 19 minute delay, play was stopped in the 15th minute for another lightening delay, which ended up being short-lived.

Two minutes of play later, the match was again delayed because of lightening.

Finally, after another hour of delay, the skies cleared over Turner Stadium and play was able to resume.

"It was frustrating, we wanted to get out there and play, we were confident from the get-go," Byrd said. "We kept each other up in the locker room and kept stretching and getting each other prepared when we did get to play."

The wait was worth it in the end.

In the 24th minute, Byrd streaked up the far sideline and crossed it into the box where Kingwood Park sophomore Leah Hoyt connected for the first goal of the match.

"We were going down and it looked like it was going out of bounds," Hoyt said. "Allie just dropped it back and I was right in front of the goal and just tapped it back into the other corner. It was just a nice play, really pretty."

Thirteen minutes later, Byrd was to the left of the goal by the end line when a Tomball defender fouled her hard as they battled for the ball. This awarded Byrd a penalty kick, which she buried in the lower left corner, making it 2-0.

Byrd finished the Region III-5A Tournament with four goals and one assist.

"I'm super excited," Byrd said about advancing to state. "I'm at a loss for words. I've always wanted to go to state in basketball or soccer. To be able to get to go, I'm just so excited right now."

In the second half, it was all Tomball firing everything they had at Kingwood Park's goalkeeper Libby Overmyer.

Tomball registered three corner kick attempts and four free kicks in the first 26 minutes of the second half.

On the fourth free kick, Tomball finally found the back of the net as from 21 yards out the shot went in past the outstretched arm of Overmyer into the top right corner for its first goal of the match, making it 2-1.

In the final minutes, Tomball made its final push peppering the goal and Overmyer was able to hold off the shots and secure the victory.

Overmyer, who also plays on the volleyball and basketball team this past season, got this close to a state tournament once before. With volleyball they lost in the Regional Final but now she heads to state with soccer.

"Me and my sister were both on the volleyball team and we lost in the fifth round," Overmyer said. "It's amazing to get this chance to come back to the fifth round and win and go to state. I'm just so excited and happy for my team."

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