WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - The Rider Lady Raiders are into the third round of the playoffs for the 4th straight year and unlike past seasons, the Lady Raiders have needed comebacks in the first two rounds to win and they say it’s something they have been practicing all season.
“In practices we do this drill where we scrimmage each other where one team is up and one team is down one," Rider junior forward Salty Jackson said. "To learn how to cope with both and I think our team chemistry has been a lot better this season than it normally has been and we don’t depend on one or two people on the team to score so we believe in ourselves more, we believe that there are more people on this team that can come through.”
“And I think just mentally doing that in practice has helped them in the game situation if we get into that situation," Rider head coach Carl Wiersema said.
Even though Rider has been able to comeback in the first two rounds... the Lady Raiders know they can't keep it up as the competition becomes even stronger.
“I think we need to come out and unlike the last two games," Rider senior forward Devon Browning said. “How we dropped the first goal, I think we are going to get the first goal.”
“Usually in soccer the first goal is deadly and every one tries to get it," Wiersema said. "Unfortunately, the last two playoff games we have gone down a goal but I think it shows the character of the girls to keep working physically and mentally until they get their result.”
If the Lady Raiders get one more win, it sets up a potential rematch with Grapevine, the team that has eliminated Rider the past three seasons.
And though the team isn’t overlooking any opponent, the Lady Raiders say they find motivation in the chance at retribution.
“I think Grapevine is what drives us," Jackson said. We want to come home and we want to beat them this year. That is all we have been talking about is we don’t care who we come up against, we want to beat Grapevine.
"That’s our goal, that’s what gets us through these games.”
“Last year, we were on a 20-game winning streak," Rider junior midfielder Haley Bragg said. "We almost made it and they beat us and now we just want to have redemption.”
The Lady Raiders are on a 15-game unbeaten streak and can keep that going on Friday when they face Lubbock Coronado at four in Shotwell Stadium in Abilene.