On a team with only three players with varsity experience, it’s junior Ben Lucas who is quarterbacking the Keller boys soccer team from his defender position.
The captain is a returning starter for the Indians, who are off to a 3-1 district mark after notching a 1-0 win over Haltom on Friday. Keller was set to play Carroll on Tuesday, after the press deadline, but the result can be found at dfwvarsity.com.
“I can see everything on the field as you’re facing the opponent’s goal,” Lucas said of being in a position to direct his fellow Indians from the defensive position. “I can direct others as to who to mark and control the game better from there. I personally prefer defense the most,” he said.
Being a good defender takes speed and agility, two qualities which Lucas said he’s worked on since his days in Keller Youth Association soccer at the age of 5.
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Keller head coach Jason Bates said Lucas’ work ethic and intelligent play makes him a valuable team member and reason why he’s a team leader and captain.
“He does a good job of organizing on the field and getting guys ready,” Bates said of Lucas. “He’s a good communicator, as many defenders are. He has a high work rate and he’s relentless.
“He’s responsible with the ball,” Bates continued. “Defending is his first job and then he helps set the attack.”
Defense has been key for Keller in the early going of district play, and it will undoubtedly continue to be a key factor in securing a playoff spot as the season continues.
In the three district wins through Friday, Keller had given up just three goals. The Indians defense held Haltom on Friday until Cole Hasfor could punch in a goal with about four minutes remaining.
On such an experience-shy team with two freshmen starting, the continued leadership will be needed.
“No doubt he’s a leader,” Bates said of Lucas. “Although we have some older kids, we still have only three players with varsity experience. They are new to the varsity scene. Ben’s a leader that accepts the responsibility.”
Lucas said the leadership role has been one he’s taken as an appreciated honor, in part because of the tight-knit relationship of the team.
“We’re all really good soccer players and all good friends, so there’s no conflict,” Lucas said. “We bond outside of soccer and that transfers to the field and that shows.”
That good team chemistry is a reason Lucas said he and his fellow Indians can anticipate each others’ movement on the field.
And although he’s just a junior, Lucas said he knows Bates’ style and where he wants the ball to go. “I can direct the younger guys to where they need to be with the ball and where to look,” Lucas said.
Another fact which Lucas knows about Bates’ teams is that they’ve gone to the playoffs every year since he’s been at Keller.
“He’s been pretty deep into the playoffs every year except last year,” Lucas said of knowing what type of goals he and the Indians have for this season. “I think we can make a run this year deep into the playoffs,” Lucas added.
To parlay his speed and agility into being the best defender he can be is a personal goal of Lucas’, but he said the team is definitely setting a trip to the state tournament as a group goal.