Devin Porter is now the answer to a trivia question.
The question that will forever be repeated through the Byron Nelson High School hallways is, “Who scored the goal that led Byron Nelson to its first state championship in boys soccer?”
Nelson’s senior forward beat Pharr Valley View’s keeper with about 10 minutes to play in the second half as the Bobcats were crowned Class 4A state champions last Saturday. Their 2-1 victory at Georgetown ISD’s Birkelbach Field gave the school its second state championship. Girls golf won the 4A title in 2013.
“That’s pretty sweet to know that,” Porter said.
A tightly contested game went scoreless through the first half. Nelson took a 1-0 lead early in the second half on a Ryan Dandan goal. Pharr Valley then tied the game, 1-1, with a goal with about 20 minutes remaining.
But Porter’s game winner developed on a goal kick. Dandan found Porter, who then split two defenders and beat the Pharr Valley goalie. The rest of the game centered on this defense keeping the ball in front and winning one-on-one matchups.
Nelson had to survive two Pharr Valley scoring opportunities in the final 90 seconds, but Porter came up with the defensive stop to shut down the chance.
Minutes later, the Bobcats (28-1-2) were presented with the state championship trophy and players were wearing gold medals.
“It was so loud out there, I wasn’t sure if they could hear me about what we wanted to do in the final minutes,” head coach Howard Putter said. “(Pharr Valley) had a bunch of throw-ins in the late minutes. But we responded and made stops.
“It’s just cool to be a program in a school district that has a state championship. The kids are going to find out the next couple of days what it really means. The hoopla didn’t end on Saturday. There’s going to be more.”
Defense wins championships
Jose Soto is the nation’s most prolific goal scorer. For his career, the Pharr Valley View senior forward had scored more than 200 goals in his career and had 78 going into this game against the Nelson.
But good defense beats good offense. After Nelson survived its 2-1 victory over Frisco Wakeland in the state semifinals (a 7-6 shootout), he scouted Pharr Valley and Soto and gave the assignment to sophomore defender Brendan Woodcock. It worked, as Woodcock frustrated Soto to the point where Soto never had clean chances at the Nelson net.
“Prolific scorers are going to frustrate you and make you make mistakes,” Putter said. “But Brendan stayed with him all the time and really did a great job. He never gave in.”
The boys program will be moving up to the highest level next year in Class 6A (formerly 5A). Putter started to make the transition this year by playing several Class 5A schools, including three Round Rock teams, Keller Fossil Ridge and Midland.
Plus, Nelson will be in a demanding district with the Denton schools, Northwest and the Keller schools. The bi-district playoff opponent would come against the Plano and Lewisville schools.
“It’s definitely going to be tougher,” Putter said. “But we just have to get back to work next week and get ready for it. My guys are ready for the new challenge.”