Maybe Philip Salyer could see it coming. He sensed some frustration with the way his team performed in its 6-0 win over Denton Guyer on March 8.
And then it bit Northwest Byron Nelson last Friday against Keller Central. With some wiggle room in terms of playing for the district championship, added to a Lady Chargers team desperate to make the postseason, Nelson suffered its first loss of 2016.
Keller Central ended the undefeated season with a 2-1 victory. An early goal off a corner kick spurred the charge. Nelson (19-1-1, 11-1-1 District 7-6A) played a better second half, but it was too late.
The bulls-eye on this team with an undefeated record probably wasn’t the issue. Salyer said he noted his team playing with an eye toward the postseason.
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“I didn’t get a sense there was pressure about us having no losses,” Salyer said. “I did get the sense from the last couple of games that they were ready to go to the playoffs. Even though the coaches kept drilling on them to get on top of this, they just weren’t ready.
“It was a good lesson. I’m hoping that we took something from this and we’re prepared to play in the final regular season game.”
Nelson still had unfinished business as far as the district championship was concerned. The Lady Bobcats led Keller by three points going into the Tuesday finale against Keller Fossil Ridge. All they needed was a tie to wrap up the outright championship.
Regardless, Nelson already owned the No. 1 seed in the district based on its head-to-head performance against the Lady Indians. Nelson won the first meeting and then won in an overtime shootout.
But Salyer really can’t prepare for any one team in District 6-6A. While that’s a district loaded with depth, he doesn’t know if he should prepare for Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, Plano or anyone else. That district still has games to play on Tuesday and Friday. The Class 6A bi-district playoffs do not begin until March 24.
Salyer said he doesn’t have room to add a warmup game when the school year resumes on Monday. Nelson has played its maximum number of games.
With the regular season concluding on Tuesday and spring break week beginning, Salyer will keep the schedule light for the rest of the week. He will have open practices for his team. However, if players have plans, they are not required to attend.
“The thing we need to emphasize is that we have to start games right and have good communication and leadership,” Salyer said. “There are times we haven’t done well. I honestly think we’ll be better off for what happened against Central. I think the game got everyone’s attention. I expect us to play at a different level.”
Justin Northwest update
The Lady Texans (2-7-4 in District 5-6A) will not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs. But that may not have been too much of a surprise given how much of rebuilding job first-year coach Becca Willett has had. Northwest concluded the regular season this week with Keller.