Coppell boys soccer

Coppell players celebrate a goal during Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Marcus. 

COPPELL – In the moments leading up to kickoff for Tuesday’s District 6-6A boys soccer match between Coppell and Marcus, Cowboys sophomore forward Preston Taylor liked the energy of his team.

Playing rival Marcus had Taylor and his Cowboy teammates fired up. It was a chance for Coppell to hand the Marauders their first loss. Coppell did just that last year when it downed Marcus 2-1 to deal the Marauders their only loss of 2020.

It was a case of déjà vu all over again Tuesday.

Taylor scored on a header just 50 seconds into the match and Coppell freshman Jacob Campbell stopped a penalty kick in the second half to preserve a 2-0 victory for the Cowboys at Buddy Echols Field.

“Before the game, I could feel it in the air,” Taylor said. “We were all hyped up. The energy is different than what it usually is. When the whistles blew, we gave it all we had. In the first minute, we got a goal, and we just kept going from there until the very end.”

Perfect placement of the ball by Taylor produced the game’s first goal.

Coppell senior forward Brandon Gast launched a throw-in from the sideline that reached the head of Taylor. Taylor jumped in the air and made contact with the ball on a header that he fired between the hands of the Marcus goalie and the crossbar. Taylor’s tally put Coppell on top 1-0.

It remained a one-goal game until just past the midway point of the first half.

Coppell took advantage of a misplayed ball by the Marcus defense to increase its lead to 2-0. A Marauder defender attempted to kick the ball back to his goalkeeper, but what should have been a routine play for the Marauders turned into disaster. The ball rolled past the goal line, resulting in an own goal.

“It turned the tide of the game,” Campbell said.

With 15 minutes left in the second half, Marcus was given a huge opportunity to get back into the game. Coppell was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty box. The Marauders were awarded a penalty kick, which was taken by forward Ryan Shaughnessy.

Campbell stood his ground. Shaughnessy fired low right but Campbell made a diving stop. It wasn’t just the initial shot that he saved. He made two saves on the same sequence. Campbell came charging out of his net and deflected the rebound out of harm’s way. 

“As a keeper, we try to read their body language,” Campbell said. “I tried to read it as much as I could before the PK. I saw him look right and I had to guess left. I got lucky and got it low and did my best. The ball went up. Our energy went up. It felt great.”

Coppell coach James Balcom said it was effort plays that allowed his Cowboys to hold Marcus off the scoreboard.

“They move the ball better than anybody,” he said. “We knew that we had to cut gaps, we couldn’t get split and force things away. Our boys did a great job of winning everything … 50-50 balls, balls in the air, corner kicks, throw-ins. They won everything tonight. Against a team like Marcus, you have to fight and scrap and have the effort. That was a big reason why we were able to get in front of so many shots and not give them anything.”

Coppell came into Tuesday’s game with just five wins in its first 11 games, but Taylor believes this win could serve as a springboard to an extended winning streak for the Cowboys (6-5-1, 2-1).

“When we beat Marcus last year, we just kept winning and winning and winning,” he said. “I’m hoping that this leads to big things for us.”

Marcus lost for the first time, but it’s been an otherwise successful season thus far for the Marauders (8-1-2, 2-1).

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