When the 2014-2015 school year began, Byron Nelson’s boys soccer program had long put its 2014 then-Class 4A state championship behind it.
After all, the Bobcats transitioned to Class 6A and realized that there would no longer be any days off. Every game would challenge and require them to play with consistency and energy.
Consider it that pretty much done. Nelson is going for the unusual repeat. The program can’t repeat at the 2013-2014 level. But it can win a second straight title. The Bobcats (15-2-3, 9-1-2 in 5-6A) are in first place, have clinched a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive year and are seeking another district championship. The worst this team can do is finish in second place.
“We’re picking up the intensity, but we knew this year was going to be hard,” said Putter who is in his fifth year. “Every game that we were going to play was going to test our caliber because every game was going to be tough. We just had to keep focused.”
With most of the defense returning from last year’s state championship team, that always helps a program when it’s climbing classifications.
The Bobcats returned senior keeper Chase Therrian, senior defenders Christian Pratt and Hunter McGuire, and junior defender Brendan Woodcock. Nelson’s defense has been very solid, allowing less than one game per game especially in district play. This team has surrendered only three goals in its first 12 district games and only six for the entire season.
“Everybody probably assumed we were going to be in the playoffs,” Putter said. “But we just had to make sure that there wasn’t any let up in the way we went about our business. The players have worked well communicating with each other. We’ve done a good job making sure that every offensive possession for the opponent is going to be a challenge.
“They are a mature team. They’ve run into a few bumps in the road. In some games, we’ve had the ball go our way. But there have been some games when it didn’t. There’s a chance we could be undefeated this year. It happens. But the kids playing have really been playing well.”
The midfield area has been in the capable hands of juniors Cole McPherson and Mason Shank.
District race work to be done
Although Nelson is pretty close to being locked in, it still hasn’t clinched the outright district championship. With two games to play, the Bobcats played a very pivotal game against at second-place Keller Central on Tuesday.
A win would give Nelson the outright championship. A tie would keep the Bobcats in first place but require them to beat Keller Fossil Ridge on March 20 when the team returns from spring break.
Of course, a loss would flip flop Nelson and Central in the standings. Keller appears to be pretty safe for third place. The race for fourth is a scramble between several teams, including Keller Fossil Ridge, Keller Timber Creek, Denton Guyer and Denton Ryan.
The Texans (reportedly winless so far in 2015 according to DFW Varsity) have obviously struggled this year and will not be going to the postseason. They played host to Denton Ryan on Tuesday.