Coming off back-to-back home playoff soccer wins, the Columbia Lady ’Necks will get to leave the home confines today as they play in the Class 4A Region III quarterfinal against the Fulshear Lady Chargers at Traylor Stadium in Rosenberg.

So far the Lady ’Necks (20-2-3) have yet to give up a goal in the playoffs while sinking in 18 of their own.

Columbia head coach Brad Harrington attributes that to how hard the Lady ’Necks have been working for some time.

“We’ve been practicing real well over the past couple of weeks, and ever since spring break we’ve stepped it up a notch each week,” Harrington said. “We’ve been building off of that and have been trying to play our best soccer heading into this weekend and then next weekend. And maybe beyond that if we are able to.”

Columbia is working on making it back to the Region III tournament for the third time out of the last four seasons. But the Lady Chargers (19-6-2) will present quite a challenge.

The Lady ’Necks previously played the Chargers at the FCBL Tournament, which was a three-team tourney where they were going to rotate on home and home fields. The weather interfered, but Columbia and Fulshear were still able to play.

“Their midfield is pretty solid along with their defense which hasn’t allowed too many goals,” Harrington said. “That has carried them through the year and then they never give up and keep plugging along. In their two toughest games in district they shutdown Needville when they needed to.”

So far Fulshear has also shut out both of its playoff opponents, Splendora (4-0) on Tuesday and Sweeny (2-0) in the bidistrict round.

“I talked to the Sweeny coach about them and she just reiterated some of the same things that we already knew about them,” Harrington said. “When we played Fulshear back on Feb. 18, I kind of knew that we would be seeing them in the third round of the playoffs. After that game, the coach and I talked and just told each other to see each other in April.”

Lady Chargers junior Ingris Cortez leads the team with 24 goals this season while freshman Ellie Mikeska has 21. Both players play a big part all over the field.

So far for Columbia, five different Lady ’Necks have been able to put the ball in the back of the net. They are led by senior Kaley Kaspar who has eight of the 18 total in the second season.

Keegan Sims-Maraist, Kaitlyn Prihoda and Tori Aucoin each have three goals with Paige Pullen getting one.

“The big thing for us has just been working on communication and not trying to force anything,” Harrington said. “But its also been tremendous especially with the senior class that has six starters who have played in two regional tournaments. Even my other lower classmen have played in multiple playoff games. Of course, experience helps, but we do know that we have to take it one match at a time.”

The winner moves onto the next round to face either Lumberton or Gatesville.

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at joel.luna@thefacts.com

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