Freshman keeper shines in first-round upset of Pearland

PEARLAND — As the old cliche goes, freshman goalkeeper Madison Anderson did everything but sell popcorn in guiding Clear Falls to a shootout win over Pearland in the Region III-6A girls soccer playoff contest at Henry Winston Stadium in Friendswood.

Clear Falls won the shootout 2-1 to decide a contest that ended 1-1 after 100 minutes of play.

The Lady Knights, fourth in District 24-6A, earned the right to move on to the area round while sending the 23-6A champion Lady Oilers to the sidelines.

Anderson was a rock in goal for Clear Falls, stopping 10 shots over 80 minutes of regulation time and three more in overtime.

Nerves gripped the penalty shootout as each team could manage just one goal over the first four attempts.

When Pearland opened the fifth round with a missed shot, Anderson went to the penalty spot and calmly put in the winning goal.

Clear Falls coach Erik Forrest had no qualms about sending out his freshman net minder for the crucial last attempt.

“She’s the best ball striker on the team,” Forrest said of Anderson. “I trust her.”

Nina Zapalac put in the first penalty attempt for the Lady Knights, with Kayla Izaguirre leveling for the Lady Oilers in the second round.

Pearland was definitely the aggressor in the first half, sending multiple attackers into the goal box.

That strategy paid off in the 28th minute when Izaguirre put in a second rebound for a 1-0 Oiler lead.

Clear Falls caught Pearland flat-footed just over a minute into the second half by taking control near midfield and sending a pass forward.

Sabrina Saley took the ball and sent a good crossing pass to Mary Asdel, who tucked the ball into the far side of the net for a 1-1 tie.

“We were wide on that play and caught (Pearland) high,” Forrest said. “That opened up a through ball lane. Mary had a great first touch and took it straight to the near post. That opened up the back post because the keeper had to slide down.”

Pearland tried stepping up the offensive pressure, only to be denied by Anderson and the Clear Falls back line. Lady Knights defender Aerien Foret cleared a shot as it rolled toward the goal line in the 66th minute.

Anderson stepped up to stop two breakaways by Izaguirre in the second half.

“Madison Anderson is one of the best goalkeepers in the area and maybe the state of Texas,” Forrest said. “She is that good. She is a quality keeper and even a better kid.”