By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Sun —
Nicole Broderick was talking about her goal — her game-changing and perhaps season-changing goal — that lifted Navarro to a 1-0 lead and ignited Navarro’s 2-0 win over Tyler in the biggest soccer match of the season Tuesday afternoon.
“I saw nothing but goal,” said Broderick in a sweet Jamaican accent. “I saw nobody else. I just saw a goal.”
And after Tuesday, Navarro is looking straight ahead — just like Broderick — and seeing nothing but the future.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the 10th-ranked Bulldogs, who began the year hoping to get back to the national title game in Florida, where they finished second in the country a year ago.
But there have been some adjustments along the way and some tough losses, including a 4-0 long night in Tyler last month that might have been just what this team needed.
The Navarro team that beat Tyler on Tuesday to hand the No. 2-ranked Lady Apaches their first loss of the season didn’t look anything like the team that lost in Tyler — no resemblance at all.
“It built us up,” Broderick said. “After that loss in Tyler we needed to regroup and pick our heads up. We knew we had to play better.”
Navarro stormed into this match with an 11-0 win over Jacksonville (that’s right, Eleven to nothing!) and stormed on the field ready to take make up for the loss in Tyler.
Trudi Carter scored in the opening minutes to make the first statement of the afternoon, but her goal was wiped out on a questionable offside call that left things at 0-0.
The score stayed that way until late in the match, thanks to some outstanding work in goal by Kenia Medina, who made the save of the day nine minutes into the match when she went diving left to right to keep things scoreless, and by a back line led by Morgan Nutley.
“Our goalkeeper played well,” said Coach Aric Bonner. “We played very composed and it was a great team win. We really played well. I was happy with the effort.”
Tyler seemed to be a step ahead of Navarro in its 4-0 win in Tyler, but the Bulldogs took just about everything away from Tyler on Tuesday and out-shot the Apache Ladies 8-6. The final two shots were the ones that counted.
It seemed as if sooner or later Navarro would get the seam, the break and the daylight it needed to take a lead. The Bulldogs seemed to be just offsides on at least four plays that all could have been dangerous.
Then finally it happened.
Melina Prado pushed the ball up past Tyler’s line of defense and sent a pass to Tiffany Robinson on the left side. Robinson, who had her moments throughout the match, beat Tyler up the left sideline and then fired a prefect cross from about 40 yards out to Broderick, who was flying down the middle of the field. She took the ball in mid-flight, dribbled past a defender and found herself in a one-on-one with the Tyler goalkeeper, who never had a chance. Broderick fired on the run and it was 1-0.
It felt like 10-0.
“Melina got me the ball,” Robinson said, “and I saw my roommate in the open and got her the ball.”
Broderick’s nickname is Pele. Honest. That’s what the kids at Navarro call her, and she has been coming on strong of late — just like the team. That was her biggest goal of the season.
“That goal was big,” Robinson said. “It was the biggest thing because it put us over the edge.”
Broderick finished her sentence saying, “It was really, really big to get the lead on Tyler.”
The goal came with 14:35 left in the game, and the Bulldogs soared after getting the lead and totally dominated the rest of the match.
Carter put the exclamation point on the match and the day with a highlight film goal with 4:31 left. After having a goal taken away early and after being marked the entire game by Tyler, and being turned away on three other close calls for offsides and having her header just miss breaking up the match with 26:51 left, Carter finally found a breath of fresh air.
Well, she created it.
Right there in the middle of the field, Carter juked off two defenders and as they closed, she spun around in one lightning-quick motion — spinning and firing — slamming her shot from 30 yards out into the top left corner of the net to give Navarro a 2-0 lead.
“That was special,” said Bonner of the breath-taking goal. “That kid is something else.”
Carter, an All-American, also says the same thing about playing at Navarro. “I play for my team. I play for my coach,” she says all the time.
The feeling is different at Navarro, where the Bulldogs have a 9-4-1 record with one game left. They will go into next week’s Region XIV Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will host a first-round game at Navarro next Thursday. Tyler (7-1 in the region) will be the No. 1 seed and if Navarro wins the opening game next Thursday, the Bulldogs will likely travel to Tyler for the title game.
“We will see them again and they will be extra motivated,” Bonner said.
But this was a different Bulldogs team on Tuesday.
“Our kids came out and played,” Bonner said. “The kids are really coming together at the right time. It’s a lot of fun to watch right now.”
Robinson said the difference is, “We believe in ourselves now,” and Broderick added, “We’re playing with heart, and we are playing as a team.”
And apparently looking straight ahead and seeing the goal — the one that gets this team back to the national title.