T-Ducks advance to conference unbeaten

Richland’s women team scored six past Blinn to maintain a perfect winning record ahead of the start of the conference games.

It was a windy evening mixed with heavy drizzle but that didn’t hinder the Thunderducks. On Sept. 10, Richland was playing the return fixture of the two-legged-tie against Blinn. In the first leg on Sept. 4. Richland drubbed the Buccaneers of Blinn 10-2.

The return fixture was destined to be a similar affair, but the Thunderducks were slow off the mark. Coach Scott Toups believes the victory in the first leg allowed complacency to seep into the squad. “I think a lot of our problem was we just kind of expected to win the game. We beat them the other day. A lot of our girls just sat back. Nobody really went after the game,” he said.

Eva Mulligan shields the ball away from a Blinn college defender on Sept. 10.

Eva Mulligan shields the ball away from a Blinn college defender on Sept. 10.

Lauren Campos gave Richland the lead in the first half after 13 minutes. Afterwards, it was a drab affair. Richland was not moving the ball fluidly and Blinn was able to disrupt the attacking play of the T-Ducks. In minute 43, against the run of play, Blinn conceded a free kick opportunity to Richland. Celeste Enriquez stepped up and curled a beautiful shot into the back of net, giving Richland a 2-0 lead. That was the last significant play before the referee signaled for halftime.

In the second half, Richland struggled to control the tempo. The players were driving towards the Blinn defense but struggled to make a breakthrough. Toups brought on Margaret Ryan. She took Miranda Frankie’s place on the right side of the defense and Frankie was deployed as striker.

Frankie sprung to life. She was contesting for every ball and terrorizing the Blinn defense with her pace and decisive runs.

In minute 53, the ball was swung in from the left wing, Claudia Pedroza reacted quickly and smashed it in to increase Richland’s lead.

Five minutes later, Frankie was played through on goal. She wove through a wave of tackles, slaloming left and right before laying it off for Asia Revely, who cut the ball left and rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

Several minutes later, in quick succession Frankie assisted on two more goals. She was subbed off to a rapturous reception by her coaches and teammates.

Toups said the team has been practicing tactics and could play Frankie as a striker in dire moments.

“When Frankie went up top all of a sudden, Frankie went after the game and took it to them. She brought the energy up.”

He acknowledges the slow start, but said his team is working to increase their sharpness in training. “We can’t have starts like that against Brookhaven and Mountain View. We will get punished for that.”

The Thunderducks will travel to Mountain View on Sept. 18. to play their first conference game at 6 p.m.