What better way to add some late-season drama than a rivalry game that has playoff implications.
The Brighton Bulldogs came into the April 26 East Metro Athletic Conference match against their cross-town rivals, the Prairie View ThunderHawks, with a record of 6-5-1, undefeated with a record of 6-0 in conference play. On the other hand, Prairie View went into the game with a record of 4-7-1, 4-1 in the EMAC.
On top of that, many players from Prairie View and Brighton are familiar with each other as they played club soccer together. So, as Prairie View’s senior midfielder and captain Elle Haas described the feeling before stepping onto the pitch, this isn’t a regular game.
“Exciting. It kind of is very scary ... always nervous,” said Haas.
Although the game was important for Brighton’s junior midfielder Karly Lambert, she tried not to think too much about the other factors when facing the ThunderHawks.
“Honestly it’s the same thing. Like you play the same way, but you’re definitely still family at the end because they were a team before,” said Lambert.
Many times "friendly competition" brings out the best in teams and it did for both squads this time. Prairie View created multiple goal-scoring opportunities in the first half, which eventually led to senior midfielder Chloe Gray’s goal from the penalty spot.
“I think we played well, we played one of the best games of the season, passing well. We had some opportunities, but sometimes it just happens,” said Haas.
The second half was fought with the same intensity as the first. But Brighton’s offensive game was too much to handle for the ThunderHawks. As Lambert said, “We were definitely down at first, but I think we all brought it together and realized that we really wanted this and just went back and fought at it.”
Jayla Sheeded got the first goal for the Bulldogs while Faith Rivero scored an amazing goal late in the second half to give Brighton the win.
“It was a shot opportunity and yeah, you just got to take them. It was just crazy," she said.
With the 2-1 win, the Bulldogs remained undefeated in conference play at 7-0 while the ThunderHawks fell to 4-2 against league opponents. Once the final whistle blew and the ball stopped rolling, there were smiles, hugs, and no hard feelings between the friendly rivals.
“It was fun because I played with some of those players," said Haas.
Rivero said, ”Before you go in as friends. When you play the game, you’re rivals. And then at the end of the game, you can just shake it off. It’s honestly fun competition.”
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