ANNA – Melissa All-State forward Lucy Hurst racked up four goals on a windy night at Coyote Stadium, March 9, as the Lady Cards surged toward postseason play with a 5-0 win over Anna. Hurst showed time and again in this match that she’s tough to handle with the ball and a sliver of open space.

“We talked about it and we knew,” Lady Coyotes head coach Marlon Madrigal said. “It’s a lot of learning. We’re very young. … I can’t ask for more. I really can’t.”

“Honestly, I felt like we came out a little bit slow, a little bit sluggish,” Melissa head coach Manuel Avila said. “We were really trying to deal with the conditions. I think once we settled in and got our feet underneath us, we started moving the ball well and we created the opportunities we were looking for.

“Actually, we felt done-in a couple of times. There were a couple of calls we felt should have gone our way. We got called offsides a couple of times when we felt like we were in behind. It happens.”

The Lady Cards shutout Anna, 3-0, on Feb. 10 at Cardinal Stadium.

Melissa (5-1-1) entered this contest with the No. 2 playoff seed from District 9-4A all locked up. With this loss, the Lady Coyotes (1-5-2) remain playoff-bound as well, as the district’s fourth seed.

After a scoreless first 35 minutes, Melissa finally broke through when Hurst took a pass over the middle and buried a shot from the left side into the right corner of the net. Hurst came back with another goal three minutes later, taking control of the ball 30 yards out from the goal and driving hard down the left side before kicking home a sharp-angled, left-to-right shot for a 2-0 advantage.

Hurst’s “hat-trick” goal came with 1:30 left in the first period, a boot that gave the Lady Cards a 3-0 halftime lead.

Nearly five minutes into the second half Hurst connected on her fourth goal, then with 25:05 left to play Kylie Kroese closed out the scoring with a header in front of the net off of Hurst’s long pass from the left side.

Commenting on Hurst’s big night, Avila said, “She likes to sit wide and I like her to sit a little more central - then move into that space. You’re putting that defender on an island as opposed to if she sits wide then there’s a defender on her - with help. My brain says I’ll take the 1-on-1 matchup any day of the week against anybody out there. That was really when we started to get some of those opportunities, when she started getting some of those runs into space and really creating mismatches.”

Melissa goalkeeper Anna Blankenship worked the entire match and was called on for one save.

Avila noted that the Lady Cards are finally starting to get healthy after a spate of injuries. Besides getting Hurst back, forward Payton Wallace should see time in the playoffs, he said. Midfielder Reu’Niya Chatman, though, is still out for UIL concussion protocol.

Madrigal was missing some key players including goalkeeper Payton Wickliffe, forward Kaitlyn Long and midfielder Krista Valdez - all out with injuries. In fact, Wickliffe and Long are done for the season, Madrigal said, and Valdez may be as well. Three other players were out of town.

“It’s part of life,” Madrigal said. “I keep telling them, ‘Life is this way.’”

Madrigal suited five JV players this night, and two started, he said.

Freshman Anna goalkeeper Macie Deaver worked the full match in place of Wickliffe and collected 11 saves. “She stepped up,” Madrigal said. “That’s all I could ask for. She’s amazing.”

The Lady Coyotes held their Senior Night observance earlier this season, but this night the team’s three seniors – Catie Chavez, Long and Valdez – appeared at home for the final time.

“They’re a great group of leaders, all in different ways,” Madrigal said. “I’m very thankful for them. They’re going to be missed.”