Although questions linger regarding whether or not the athletics season will continue, The Colony boys soccer team is able to look back and see just what it was able to do.
Entering the year, there was every reason for the Cougars to take a step back. They lost a remarkably talented class of eight seniors that featured the District 8-5A Offensive Player of the Year, the Utility Player of the Year and the Midfielder of the Year – and four of those seniors combined for 44 goals and 28 assists.
That group excelled in their last rendezvous on campus by finishing in second place in 8-5A. With them departing and much of the district returning key pieces, it was going to be a daunting task for the Cougars to etch their way back into one of the top four spots.
Well, they did, defying the odds and showing their overwhelming toughness throughout the season as they secured a playoff spot in a challenging district that also includes a Lake Dallas squad that went to the regional finals a year ago.
“They’ve really exceeded expectations,” said Lee Weddall, The Colony head coach. “The sum is greater than the parts. If you look at our teams on paper, there’s no way we should be in the playoffs.”
Weddall knew that loss of offensive firepower would require an even stingier effort on the defensive end. There is no way you can replace a senior class like that, make a quick fix and immediately bring in that type of offensive prowess.
Typically, Weddall said he has not been a defensive coach. His club teams boast a more creative and expansive element to their games, and that was especially the case for his The Colony group in 2019.
This year, it has been a different story, but the results have been the same in terms of wins. Three of the last five games have been wins. Only one of those was a loss to Lake Dallas, the back-to-back district champion. And the past two games have each been 1-0 victories, showing the adjustments Weddall and company have made and how they continue to string out important victories.
“We’re really concentrating on being very tough to beat,” Weddall said. “You look at our last couple of games – we squeaked out 1-0 wins. It wasn’t pretty, but they followed instructions to the letter. We maybe got one or two chances in the game, and we grabbed one of them. That’s all we needed. We’re just far more difficult to beat.”
What those recent wins also display is just how far the Cougars grew in the past month. They were 2-2-2 through the first half of the district schedule, hoping they could do the necessary things to continue the playoff tradition at the school.
Which is exactly what happened. Weddall said he really noticed a spirit with them, a “bloody-minded spirit” that they were not going to lose and they were not going to be the team that snapped a playoff streak of two straight years heading into this campaign.
“I really sensed it, so I didn’t have to give as many speeches after that,” Weddall said. “They kind of embraced it. That’s what you want. You want the kids taking ownership. I always say, ‘Average teams are coach led. Good teams are player led.’”
Whether or not the season continues and The Colony gets the opportunity to make a playoff run remains to be seen, as the UIL just announced all sanctioned activities are suspended through May 4. But what the Cougars do know if they battled back after a strong core of seniors departed and got themselves a playoff spot a third straight year.
And that now becomes a motivation for the next players in line to continue the winning ways in 2021.
“Now it’s put them on notice,” Weddall said. “Now we’ve transferred that accountability over to you guys now. We’ve made it in, and now what are you going to do? Are you going to be the group that doesn’t make it? I think it’s cool to have that pressure. It’s kind of a good pressure or expectation. You’re always relying on your current senior class to pave the way for the following year.”