Rebuilding Cougars find path to postseason in boys soccer

03/10/2014 3:09 PM

03/10/2014 3:11 PM

For Seguin senior Colton Boynton, it has all come down to this simple formula: Win one of the last two and they’re in.

The Cougars played Mansfield Lake Ridge on Monday afternoon with a chance to clinch at least the fourth seed in 16-4A. Lake Ridge entered the game as the top team in the ultracompetitive district. Regardless of that game’s outcome, Seguin controls its own destiny in the playoff chase.

And that’s not a bad position to be in on a team that’s had to take on a hard-nosed defensive mentality after losing several seniors off the 2013 squad that fell to Granbury in overtime in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

“We’ve done well working as a team and playing the ball together and just communicating as a team,” Boynton, a defender, said.

The path toward the playoffs hasn’t been easy for the Cougars. After a lopsided loss to Mansfield Summit on March 5, Seguin had to get up for a game two days later at Everman. Not only did the Cougars show up, they competed at a high level, posting a 5-0 victory.

“It was a struggle for us, but we came out and played hard,” Boynton said.

The Cougars’ offensive onslaught was led by sophomore center-midfielder Fernando Salazar, who notched two goals. Salazar’s emergence in his first year on varsity has helped the team overcome the lack of a go-to scorer. The roster is quite a change from the team two years ago that featured Brandon Head, who led the state with more than 40 goals.

“This is a different-type team,” Seguin coach Joey Baffa said. “We don’t have a goal-scorer who’s scored 10. We don’t have a leading goal scorer. Everybody’s made contributions. Other teams may have a guy who has 15 or 16 goals, whereas we may have five kids who have four goals.”

Instead of depending on prolific scoring, Seguin takes on a defensive mindset. Along with Boynton, the defense gets a big boost from the play of Ben Flores. He made the switch to sweeper as a senior after being a first-team all-district midfielder as a junior.

“He’s made a big adjustment, but he’s made a big impact on our defense,” Flores said.

Flores has embraced the challenge of keeping the ball out of the goal. His team-first attitude has helped Seguin to third-place in the standings. Seguin still has a chance to overtake Crowley for third in the district.

“He came in and he was unselfish,” Baffa said. “We asked him to switch to sweeper, and he’s done a great job for us.”

Seguin has topped Mansfield Legacy twice and earned a critical win down the stretch against Burleson Centennial. Baffa said a grueling nondistrict slate, which included competing against crosstown 5A programs at the Martin Invitational, prepared Seguin for the challenges of district play.

“We got off to a slow start nondistrict-wise,” Baffa said. “It was trial by fire.”

All the struggles and tough contests have helped round Seguin into one of the top teams in the district, Boynton said. “We’ve been through a pretty tough time, but we’re up on that top level.”

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