With just a few matches remaining on the District 9-6A boys soccer schedule, nobody is safe.
Whether it’s contention for a playoff spot or the conference championship, as many as seven of the district’s eight teams are alive and well — from Allen and Prosper jostling for first place, to Plano West and McKinney Boyd looking to wedge their way into that conversation, while Plano East, McKinney and Jesuit battle for playoff positioning as well.
1. Allen (6-1-3, 21)
Matt Welch: The Eagles’ defense of their 9-6A championship hasn’t com without a fight, but it’s one that Allen is slowly but surely getting the better of.
Despite an early setback against Plano East and a stretch of three consecutive draws, Allen exited Tuesday’s slate of matches as winners of three straight to resume its perch in first place.
Although the Eagles’ goal-scoring has been right in line with the rest of the pack, it’s on the defensive end of the pitch where Allen has distanced from the pack with a district-low seven goals allowed so far — good for a plus-12 goal differential.
2. Prosper (6-2-2, 20)
Bryan Murphy: After a rather lackluster start to district play, the Eagles are flying high on a four-game winning streak against the likes of district foes Plano Senior, East, McKinney and Jesuit.
The going gets tougher down the homestretch with games slated against squads from the top of the district in Allen, McKinney Boyd and Plano West – all programs Prosper either lost to or tied during the first half of district action.
The Eagles have been paced by a strong collection of goal scorers in seniors C.J. Lucido (8) and Nathan Smith (7), while senior Jack Simonini has come on strong as of late with goals in each of the last two matches.
3. Plano West (4-2-4, 16)
Matt Welch: After missing out on the playoffs in the first year of the Brennon Satre era, the Wolves are in the mix after picking up at least one point in seven consecutive matches. They’ve incurred draws in three of their past four bouts, which has slowed their rise toward a potential No. 2 seed, but a 4-3 win over Prosper could serve the Wolves well down the road.
Led by Connor Brown and Jackson Castro, West’s offense has picked it up since an 0-2-1 start to district play, and if the Wolves can repeat their success from the first half of district play against their next four opponents, a playoff berth is likely.
4. McKinney Boyd (4-3-3, 15)
Kendrick E. Johnson: The Broncos got off to the best start of any team in 9-6A by getting a point in every matchup except in their district opener against Plano East to finish the first round of district in first place.
So far, the second half of district has been a nightmare for the Broncos as Boyd has uncharacteristically dropped back-to-back games against East and Jesuit and tied with West to fall to fourth place in district. If Boyd is going to turn things around, it must find ways to get consistent offense after having not scored more than one goal in their last five games.
5. Plano East (4-5-1, 13)
Matt Welch: After failing to win a district match in 2019, the Panthers have bounced back well under longtime head coach Rick Woodard and have done so behind one of the conference’s liveliest offensive attacks.
James Stautler and Walters Che have staked East to 9-6A’s second-highest scoring mark at 19 goals, but the key for the homestretch will be reversing the momentum from a stretch that has produced just one win in the Panthers’ last six matches.
For tiebreaker purposes, East will need to stay on Boyd’s heels, considering the Panthers have not only two head-to-head wins over the Broncos but a higher goal differential as well.
5. Jesuit (4-5-1, 13)
Matt Welch: The Rangers’ 5-1 district-opening blowout of West looked to have signaled a return to form for the perennial powerhouse, but 9-6A has pushed back a bit.
Since scouring the back of the nets versus the Wolves, Jesuit is averaging just 0.8 goals and has instead hung its hat on defense to remain in the mix for a playoff berth. Despite a 2-1 loss to Prosper on Tuesday, that marked just the fourth time that the Rangers have surrendered multiple goals in conference action.
Still, with matches left against Plano and McKinney, there are chances for Jesuit to scale the standings into the top four.
7. McKinney (4-6-0, 12)
Kendrick E. Johnson: After reaching the regional quarterfinals in consecutive seasons, McKinney is in the mix for one of the final playoffs spots despite having a young roster and being in the middle of transition season.
The Lions currently sit in seventh place after a 3-0 victory over Plano on Tuesday night, but only sit four points out from third place. McKinney must find ways to beat teams like Boyd, West, Allen and Prosper, who are ahead of them in the standings over the next couple of weeks if they plan on returning to the postseason.
8. Plano Senior (0-8-2, 2)
Matt Welch: For a team that had its playoff fate go down to the final night of the regular season last year, the Wildcats enter the homestretch as the only team in 9-6A already eliminated from postseason contention.
Despite returning the bulk of last season’s roster, Plano hasn’t been able to steer much positive momentum with a pair of 3-3 draws marking its lone dent in the standings opposite eight losses. In defeat, Plano has been outscored by 16 goals while only finding the back of the net three times against opponents not named Plano West.