On Senior Night, the Coppell boys soccer team came away with just enough plays down the stretch to keep its winning streak going.
Led by two goals in the final eight minutes, the Cowboys (7-4-2) staved off a stingy Flower Mound (1-8-4) squad on Tuesday night at Buddy Echols Field to notch their sixth straight victory since a 1-4-2 start to District 6-6A play, keeping a hold on a second-place spot in the standings with just one regular season game remaining.
“We’re really good at times and then we just kind of back off at times, and it cost us a goal or two against Irving, and it cost us when they tied it up tonight,” said Ryan Balcom, Coppell head coach. “I told the boys obviously it’s great to get the win but going into the playoffs we have to find a way to put together 80 minutes. Some of it is Senior Night. A lot of festivities are going on, but I think if we can put together a solid 80, I like our chances moving forward.”
Coppell started out with the first score of the contest on senior Adam Saif’s goal less than six minutes into the contest, giving the Cowboys, who dominated the possession in the early going, a quick lead on its home field.
But Flower Mound, noticing the difference of space and time in those moments, dialed up some changes. Neither team was able to gain much traction on either end of the field in the second half until a Jaguars bunch that held their own down the stretch and nearly put an end to Coppell’s lengthy win streak.
Flower Mound scored on junior Matthew Ortiz’s goal on a free kick as 25:30 remaining on the clock, getting the gritty Jaguars in a 1-1 tie against one of the hottest teams in the area.
“It was a well-played game,” said David Doyle, Flower Mound head coach. “A bit more experience, a bit more savvy at midfield. We could have done better when we had the ball, but I give them credit. They scored when they had to. He’s got a good group there. Wish them all the best.”
And Coppell came away with those plays in the waning moments of the game to come out on top in its final home game of the season.
Senior Sebastian Blaas put the go-ahead goal into the back of the net with 7:39 remaining to make it 2-1 in favor of the Cowboys, adding to a superb that has seen him score eight goals – which is tied with senior Tom Vazhekatt for the most on the roster. Freshman Nicholas Radicic added the goal to ice it with 29 seconds remaining on the clock to put the Cowboys ahead, 3-1.
“We had a couple opportunities earlier,” Balcom said. “That has kind of been our season. We’ve had a lot of chances to score, take a lead or put games away, and we haven’t done it. To get it done tonight, Radicic on the third goal was huge, the second goal Sebastian Blaas, of course, comes up big for us. Those types of moments you’ve got to have guys step up, and it was good to see tonight.”
Doyle has loved the effort from the Jaguars, who have battled through everything despite losing an immensely large senior class of 27 players from last year’s Class 6A state championship team.
Now, they have just one match left before the offseason when they host Irving MacArthur at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, a game in which Doyle said he will play the young players for roughly the first 75% and then the seniors will play the final 15-20 minutes in their last-ever high school game.
“It’s been a tough year for us considering what we lost last year, but I can’t argue with the boy’s effort,” Doyle said. “They’ve been playing with a lot of heart, a lot of effort. It’s a big learning experience for them. There’s one guy out there that’s played varsity before for us, so we’ve got a lot of juniors and sophomores playing. It will be good for them and hopefully they’ll learn from it.”
For Coppell, Balcom wants to see it piece an entire 80 minutes heading into the postseason, but it continues to find ways to win and is building those habits at just the right time before the playoffs begin later this month.
“It’s huge,” Balcom said. “I tell the boys that you’ve got the win, but we still have not played our best performance yet. I think we can use that to keep them motivated and energized because a six-game winning streak in this district, you could see guys start to get a little complacent at times. We’re kind of using that message of, ‘Hey, let’s find our best 80 and see what we can do.’ I think that’s going to be kind of a key for us moving forward.”