Byron Nelson boys soccer coach Howard Putter really believed his 2013 team had state championship potential.
However, a controversial 2-1 loss to Wichita Falls in the Class 4A Region I quarterfinals ended the Bobcats’ season. Those frustrations are in the past but not forgotten. Nelson (18-1-1, 6-0-1 in District 5-4A) has already clinched a playoff spot – its third consecutive postseason berth – and is starting to prepare for the playoffs.
“We’re trying to press our guys and address some of their weaknesses,” Putter said. “In this final third of the season, we want them to create a lot of opportunities and trying to get them to produce at a high level.”
What gives Putter a better feeling about this group is that it already has defeated a couple of 5A teams at the Round Rock tournament. The Bobcats defeated Round Rock NcNeil 3-1 and Round Rock Westwood, 3-0.
Defense is where this team is priding its play. The Bobcats have yielded only seven goals all season.
“This is the best defensive team I’ve ever had,” Putter said. “There really isn’t one person who is carrying this. It’s a combination of everybody doing their part.”
For the last three games, the Bobcats are trying to close in on the district championship and positioning themselves for the playoffs. They were scheduled to face Denton on Tuesday before playing host to Birdville on Friday, which is Senior Night.
Offensively, this team has been pretty solid. Senior forward Devin Porter leads the way with 12 goals, while senior midfielder Noah Russo is second with nine.
Senior goalkeeper Chase Therrien has enjoyed a stingy season. That’s just part of the reason why this defense is so stingy.
Both senior defender Chris Pratt and sophomore defender Brendan Woodcock have been nursing knee and ankle injuries respectively. However, Putter said his team should be at full strength once the playoffs begin.
Pratt played this past Friday for about 15 minutes and seemed to hold up pretty well, Putter said. Woodcock should be ready for the playoffs.
A season filled with major roster turnover has been a challenge for head coach Brent Beeson. The Texans (1-13-3, 0-7-3 in District 4-5A) are not going to make the postseason.
Beeson is starting six freshmen and sophomores on a team that is just trying to build and gain a little bit of momentum as the offseason nears. Despite the record, the Texans have found some solid play from freshman defender Tyler Null and freshman stopper Rodrigo Rojas. The midfield line has been led by sophomore Santiago Lopez.
“They haven’t been intimidated,” Beeson said. “We’re just building and trying to create some good things for the future.”
Beeson said keeper Sage Ricker, who was a second-team all-district performer in 2013, has signed with Central Baptist in Arkansas. Beeson said he would be surprised if Ricker didn’t receive similar recognition this spring.