Late in March, a number of area soccer teams were fighting to clinch the final playoff berth in their respective districts. These fourth seeds have the tall order of taking on district champions in the first round, but as the old saying goes, there’s a reason they play the games.
As many as four fourth seeds advanced by knocking off No. 1 seeds last week. In the Class 4A boys bracket, Granbury knocked off District 16-4A champion Mansfield Lake Ridge 2-0, and Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis eliminated 13-4A champ South Hills 1-0.
“We talked about the seniors especially — the idea that it’s a one-and-done situation,” Diamond Hill-Jarvis coach Dan Russell said.
“It’s either the beginning or the end. So they’re either going to fight and give everything they have and go out champions regardless, or they’re going to let up and let the other team win and lose the game. It creates a little bit of fight in them.”
From the 5A boys bracket, Arlington Sam Houston ousted 4-5A winner Richland 2-1. Texans coach Joey Rodriguez said his team was always better than its fourth-seed label.
“We went into the game thinking we were misrepresented in our district,” he said. “We had some bad games, which put us into fourth place. We feel that we easily could have been one of the top two teams. We felt like in a game like this, going against the No. 1, it would be a good indication of how good we really are. We wanted to come out and make a statement that we are a pretty good team.”
The Keller Central girls also won as a fourth seed in Class 5A, defeating Arlington Martin 3-1. For the Chargers, it was sweet revenge after losing in the same matchup a year ago.
“We’ve been planning for this game since the exact same date last year,” Central coach Lauren Arias said after the match. “This is everything we’ve been working for. Our slogan for the playoffs was ‘same story, different ending’ and we got it tonight. I’m about to cry.”
Granbury and Diamond Hill-Jarvis both lost their second-round matches; the Pirates fell to Fort Worth North Side 5-2, and DHJ lost in a penalty kick shootout to Mansfield Summit.
Meanwhile, the Sam Houston boys (11-7-4) get a home game Friday against Abilene Cooper at 7:30 p.m. and the Keller Central girls (14-8-1) travel to Abilene for a Friday match with Midland in the area round.
The District 3-5A boys and 4-5A girls brought their brooms to the playoffs, sweeping their bi-district counterparts.
The 3-5A boys representatives, all Arlington ISD schools, each advanced in one-goal games. Sam Houston beat Richland 2-1; Arlington High beat Southlake Carroll 3-2; Martin edged Keller Central 1-0; and Lamar defeated Keller Fossil Ridge 1-0 (shootout).
Martin coach Brady Cagle feels the grueling 3-5A schedule prepared teams for the hard-nosed nature of playoff soccer.
“We’re all very physical and I think that got us all ready for the playoffs this year,” He said.
“All four games were very physical matches that always came down to the wire or shootout. I think [our physical district] really, really helped us for the playoffs.”
On the opposite hand, the girls teams in 4-5A sent all the 3-5A playoff schools home, winning by a combined score of 16-1.
Southlake Carroll easily handled Lamar, 5-0; Keller dominated Weatherford, 6-0; Keller Timber Creek shut out Arlington 2-0; and Keller Central upset Arlington Martin 3-1.
Keller Timber Creek coach Mike King says playing in District 4-5A keeps his team from being intimidated.
“You get to the playoffs and it’s almost like you get to take a breath of fresh air for once,” he said. “By no means do you expect to automatically walk in and win the game, but you know you’ve been through the battles, and maybe the other districts haven’t.”
Tech school record
It was a record-breaking year for Fort Worth Trimble Tech’s Blanca Cisneros, who set a school mark for goals in a regular season with 34. She finished with 35 total. The junior has led the team in scoring three consecutive seasons.
“What I like most about her game is that she also likes to defend and pass in addition to scoring goals,” Tech coach Dustin Alexander said.