LEWISVILLE – Lewisville head boys soccer coach Brandon McCallum is amazed by the things that Farmers senior forward DJ Koulai can do when the ball touches Koulai’s foot.
Whether it’s a rush to the net or a header that leads to a goal, it comes as no surprise that Koulai leads all Dallas-area players in scoring with 32 goals. But even when he is not scoring goals for the Farmers, he has the ability to draw multiple defenders and create chances for his teammates.
After a Hebron defender misplayed a goal kick by Lewisville senior goalkeeper Edwin Beltran late in the first half of Monday’s regular-season finale, the Farmers got a foot on the ball and it created a scoring chance. Koulai drove the net and Hawks goalie Harrison Graham made a save to deny Koulai, but senior Mason Church kicked home the rebound and the goal stood up as the game-winner, and Lewisville won 1-0 to hand first-place Hebron its first loss.
“He’s got down all aspects of the game,” McCallum said of Koulai. “He can set people up, he can score goals. If we had finished the chances that he’s created for other players this year, who knows where he’d be. He’s just an incredible player.”
Hebron (17-1-3 overall, 10-1-3) came into the game having already clinched the District 6-6A title. And while finishing without a loss in the regular season would have been the cherry on top of what has already been a turnaround season for the Hawks, head coach Matt Zimmerman said the priority for his team coming into Monday was to not see any of his players get injured. It’s a goal that Hebron accomplished, though the Hawks were unable to convert on multiple set pieces.
“When you’re in the spot that we’re in, a lot of it was working on some finer things,” Zimmerman said. “I had my starters play, but we didn’t do a lot of things that we did in a normal game. I felt like there were plenty of opportunities, especially towards the end of the half, but I thought we were good enough. We had that open net in the first minute and a half that we don’t get. We just wanted to make sure that we got through this without injuries, and we did that.”
A physical affair throughout the game, fouls occurred in just about every other minute. The Farmers were issued a total of four yellow cards on the night, but none of that play came back to hurt Lewisville (15-3-5, 7-3-4).
“It’s not so much about being physical,” McCallum said. “You saw that we picked up two early yellow cards because we had a little too much energy. But we definitely have to be first to the ball, stuck in, be strong on the ball. Tonight, I think everybody kind of put it all out there. It’s a good result for us.”
Lewisville, like Hebron, had its fair number of scoring chances, more so on the rush.
Hebron goalkeeper Harrison Graham, who is the No. 1 keeper on their JV1 squad, got the start and came up with several incredible saves. He made an enormous save to rob Koulai, but Church kicked the rebound high into the center of the net for the game-winning goal with 2:41 remaining in the first half.
With the win, Lewisville moved one point ahead of Flower Mound (7-3-3) for second place in 6-6A, though the Jaguars can regain that spot for good if they can beat Plano West on Tuesday night. The Farmers are assured of no worse than third place in the final 6-6A standings.
Last season, Lewisville went all the way to the third round of the playoffs last season for just the second time since 1993. The Farmers are on a roll heading into the postseason this season. Lewisville closed out the regular season 4-0-2 in its final six regular-season games.
“In the middle of the district, we lost to Hebron and turned around and lost to Flower Mound,” McCallum said. “We kind of had a reset there and looked to go on a roll before the playoffs. Like I told them, the first season is preseason. The second season is district. The third season is the playoffs. We’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Although Monday's setback was the first loss of the season for Hebron, Zimmerman said he is proud of his team. The Hawks are bound for the playoffs for the first time since 2019 – a result that comes one year after Hebron went 0-9-2 over its last 11 games after starting 8-2.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I’m so proud of the boys. They haven’t looked past anybody. In this district, the turnaround has been special. I saw during the interview when I interviewed for this job five years ago that this senior class has a chance to be something special, and if they did the things that we wanted to do, we could compete for championships.”
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