This season, the McKinney ISD soccer teams consistently showed up and showed out on the pitch, which led to five of the six programs qualifying for postseason play.
Despite the huge success across the city, there was only one program to reach the regional quarterfinal round – the McKinney boys, who were the final team in McKinney eliminated this season after losing in penalty kicks to Sachse in a playoff thriller at McKinney ISD Stadium last week.
Though they would rather be playing this weekend in the regional tournament, the Lions made great strides this season and are slowly but surely gaining a reputation as being a perennial powerhouse. Not bad for a program no one knew what to expect from after transitioning to Class 6A just three seasons ago.
“It was really validating last year to make playoffs as a fourth seed and make a run because sometimes it looks like you just sneaked in,” said Alan Pocock, McKinney head coach. “To start off 6-0 this season and then match the preseason buzz and get back to the regional quarterfinals just validates where we are at as a program.”
Behind most good high school programs, no matter the sport, is often a strong senior class, and the McKinney boys soccer program is no different. The Lions had 11 talented seniors on their roster this season who combined to win 54 games, one district title and reached the regional quarterfinal round three of their four years on campus.
With senior Micah Ardila and junior Ryan Watson leading the way by combining to score 32 of the teams 45 goals and dishing out 20 assists on the season, McKinney was able improve its positioning this season by finishing second in District 9-6A.
Despite the success, some seniors still have the thought of “what could have been” in the back of their heads.
“From a team prospective, I definitely realize that going to three regional quarterfinals is something very few groups can say, but from an individual perspective, I think we could have done better all three years,” Ardila said. “For the program view, I know we are leaving and have lost in the regional quarterfinals all three times, but I do know this program has the talent to go even farther, and when a group does, it will be very special.”
Besides their overall success and winning more playoff games over the last four years than their counterparts at Boyd and North, the Lions’ class of 2019 seniors will be most remembered for being the class to prove McKinney can play year in and year out with the top programs in the state and are just a breakthrough away from bringing home McKinney’s first state title in boys soccer.
“The change of mentality goes to show we work hard in practice and in the offseason so that we can still perform when we go up against bigger schools with more talent,” Ardila said.