Some teams embody the all-for-one concept of sports more than others, and the boys soccer team at Trophy Club Nelson can be considered one of those.
The Bobcats are headed to their first appearance in the UIL state tournament, scheduled to take on Frisco Wakeland at 4 p.m. Friday in a Class 4A semifinal, and the spotlight won’t be shining in any one player’s direction.
“We don’t rely on one key player to make all our plays. All of our team has a contributing role,” senior co-captain Brett Powell said.
“We’re solid at every position; we don’t have to rely on one player,” fellow co-captain Christian Pratt added. “We don’t go in putting it on one guy’s back saying, ‘You’ve got to have a great game.’ We spread it throughout every single player.”
The Bobcats pride themselves on being a well-rounded group that is close both on and off the field.
“We just love each other,” Pratt said. “We play to be victorious and win, but we play for each other because we love each other. I think that’s a big part of what’s made us successful. We work for each other.”
Having played somewhat in the shadow of the girls team, which is making its second 4A state tournament appearance in three years, the boys have forged a remarkable season that surpassed even their own expectations. The Bobcats lost their second match of the season, but haven’t been beaten since on the way to a 26-1-2 record.
“We felt we had a good group of guys that have been playing together for the past few years. Honestly, we weren’t predicting to have just one loss, but we definitely were aware that we had a group of guys that can get the job done,” senior midfielder Ryan Dandan said.
“I think we definitely knew we could make a good run in the playoffs, but I don’t think we expected to go this far,” Pratt added. “We knew we had a good team, but we didn’t realize how good we were until we started playing against other teams.”
The realization of just how good they were started when the Bobcats steamrolled through the Round Rock Tournament. Nelson outscored opponents 11-0 on the way to the championship.
“We played 5A teams and we played very hard and that’s really where we started to pick up speed for our season,” Powell said.
“I think after that we realized we had something special,” Pratt added.
A state title would go a long way to ensure that all the soccer talk around Byron Nelson isn’t just about the girls.
“This team has been bound and determined to stay even with the girls and do what the girls have been doing,” coach Howard Putter said. “[The girls] have had success at state and that puts a lot of pressure on us.”
The senior captains downplay the comparisons with the girls team, but they do admit the girls’ success has served as motivation. And while the boys confess a part of them would like to outperform the girls, Dandan reminds everyone that they’re all part of the Nelson soccer family.
“I think this year with having both teams go to state at the same time, rather than trying to one-up the other there’s more camaraderie,” he said. “We’re both wanting each other to do well. In past years we may have been a little more jealous, but I think this year it’s turned into something more than that.”