America Cespedes helped the Ranger College women's soccer team reach one of their goals on Thursday evening by scoring the biggest goal of her young career.
With less than three minutes left in regulation, Cespedes lofted a high shot from about 35 yards out that soared over the head of the Western Texas College goalie and bounced into the net. The kick gave Ranger College a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory in the semifinals of the Region V Soccer Championships and sends the Lady Rangers into the tournament finals against Hill College.
"We never gave up," said RC midfielder Paola Camacho. "We kept fighting. I'm so happy."
Western Texas made sure Ranger had to fight hard throughout. The No. 3 seed heading into the tournament, the Lady Westerners pushed home a shot midway through the first half and took a 1-0 lead.
Trailing by a goal at the half, defenseman Sydney McDaniel said the Lady Rangers didn't panic.
"We just told ourselves that we needed to push the ball," said McDaniel, a sophomore from Jacksonville, Texas. "We knew we were the better team and that we just needed to calm down and do our jobs."
The patience paid off in the 67th minute of play. Camacho, who went into the tournament as one of the region's top scorers, drilled a shot from the left side that knotted the game at 1-1 with 23:03 left in the match.
Cespedes finished off the rally minutes later.
Leading by one, The Lady Rangers survived a wild finish by the Lady Westerners. RC goalie Oriana Palacios turned away two shots on goal in the final two minutes to send Ranger into the tournament's championship game on Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. at The Depot in Cleburne, Texas.