Kingwood Park downs Pflugerville to advance to 2nd straight state soccer semis
4/25/2019 8:52 PM

Stop Allie Byrd once, kudos to you; stop her twice – that ain’t happening.

Kingwood Park’s standout forward supplied two penalty-kick goals in their 2-1 win over Pflugerville in the Region III-5A final Saturday at Turner Stadium, including the game-winner in the 85th minute after keeper Lauren Banning stopped her first shot but left the line early, giving Byrd a do-over.

“She’s not going to miss two in a row,” K-Park coach Jess White said.

As a result, K-Park’s Panthers (26-1-2) are heading to the state semis in Georgetown for the second year in a row, despite having to navigate a brutal bracket that included matches against Brenham, Cedar Park, College Station and Port Neches-Gr“This means a lot, especially because this team is not that different from last year’s team,” Byrd said. “And we’ve, again, like last year, had the same mindset to go into every game ready to compete.

“We’ve put in the work, so this means a lot to our team.”

Byrd means a lot to her team, too.

She notched a hat trick on Friday against PN-G, with one goal in the run of play, one on a header off a corner kick, and another on a penalty kick. Her two PK goals Saturday gave her 91 career goals.

“This year, what we see out of Allie Byrd is maturity as a person and as a player,” White said. “She is not normally a vocal person, but you see her being a leader on the field. She’ll step up, she’ll do what I want, where I ask – whatever the team needs – and that maturity jump … has been fantastic for us.”

Byrd’s first PK goal Saturday tied Pflugerville (24-2-1) 1-1 in the 37th minute.

The second – on an unlikely second try after the first was stopped – she sent low into the left side of the net.

“I thought that was it, that was our chance to win the game, and it was over,” Byrd said.

“(But) when the ref called it, that it was an early start, I knew it was my second chance to put the game away.”

The Panthers still had to survive a PK attempt by Pflugerville, which scored its lone goal on a PK by Kyndahl Britton in the seventh minute. This time, with 2 minutes left in regulation, Libby Overmyer – who also stopped a direct kick on goal in the 68th minute – dove to her left for a clutch save.

“All three keepers have been doing a really good job,” White said.

“Each of our keepers have stepped up in high-profile games. Sam (Valadez) helped get us to the regionals, A.J. (Weeks) put in some quality minutes (Friday) in a tough game, and Libby was great (Saturday).”

They’ll need another outstanding showing in the state semis.

The Panthers fell 3-0 to eventual 5A champion Frisco Wakeland in last year’s semis, leaving unfinished business.

“We definitely want to go come home with a state championship title this time,” Byrd said.

“Last year, we weren’t ready for the quick pace of the game, but this year, because our region was so much tougher, and we had to play tougher teams, we’ll be better prepared as we go to state.”

Jason McDaniel is a freelance writer.oves, which they beat 6-3 in the regional semis.

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