With less than 10 minutes remaining in their soccer match against chief rival Baylor on Tuesday, a lot of the GPS starters already had pulled on their warmups. They sat and cheered for the teammates on the field, but the work that needed to be done already had been.
The Bruisers scored two early goals and dominated what turned out to be a 3-0 victory over the Lady Red Raiders. The win gives GPS (10-3-1) the fourth seed in the Division II-AA East/Middle Region and a host role against Pope John Paul II in the first round of the state playoffs Saturday.
Early in the match, GPS looked like the team that was expected to compete for a state title, not one that had scored only two goals in its last four matches. Abbi Harr equaled that output herself Tuesday, heading in a pair of Keyle Snyder assists on set pieces.
"We've been in a slump, but I think we've started coming back together as a team," said senior Izzy Phillips, who scored the first goal. "Tonight I think we found our confidence as a team. We still think we have the pieces to be a state championship team."
Practices and meetings on Monday addressed the recent struggles.
The Lady Red Raiders (8-5-3) are the region's fifth seed and will host Brentwood Academy on Thursday at 6. Already hampered by injuries, Baylor lost Maggie Crumbliss (knee), Rachel Payne (concussion) and Kamryn Bloh (foot) during Tuesday's defeat.
"We're really down as a team right now," Baylor coach Jimmy Weekley said. "At one point, we had six girls out there that had never played in this game, and GPS is athletically better and taller.
"We felt we were ready for what they wanted to do, but we didn't have the athletes to do that."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.