There were a lot of similarities in the first round soccer playoff loses by Central and Keller, but not many of them were favorable.
Both teams ran into solid competition from District 6-6A, and each team came away with season-ending 3-0 losses.
Coincidentally, between all five Keller ISD soccer playoff teams – two boys and three girls teams – each one lost by a three-goal differential.
Keller and Central lost to Flower Mound Marcus and McKinney Boyd, respectively.
Both teams will look to reload their strong programs as sizable numbers graduate from each team.
Keller, with 11 seniors, finished the season as District 5-6A’s third place team.
“We had a really good group of senior boys and good leaders,” said Keller head coach Jason Bates. “They were a cohesive group when we needed to win some games. And we just lost five all year. We just ran into a good Marcus team at the end.”
The senior contingent helped guide an Indians team in a strong district of its own.
“They’re real close and a great aspect is they keep everyone involved, regardless of their class,” Bates said. “If the JV B-team is playing, it’s almost a given every kid from varsity will be there, cheering and coaching them on. Those are the kinds of things that are infectious and bleed over to the next year.”
Even with a less-than-desired final game, Bates said the team was proud of how his player performed.
“Our boys left the field knowing we put up everything we could,” he said. “We didn’t leave upset. There was emotion for sure, but our play was even verified by the Marcus coaches and players in their comments to us. It helped take the sting out of the loss.
Even with 11 graduating, Keller will return about 25, 14 of whom will have varsity playing experience.
Keller will have freshman and sophomore goalkeepers back, for example, Bates said, as the off-season starts later this week in the weight room and with fitness testing.
Central, the district runner-up, was forced to enter the playoffs with a bit of adversity in addition to facing stiff competition.
Two injuries and two red cards already had the Chargers down four regular starters before they ever stepped onto the pitch against McKinney Boyd.
Still, Central was down just 1-0 at the half.
“It was an unfortunate end to the season,” said Central head coach Aaron Cottrell. “The other guys stepped up. We moved one up from the JV and another player that hadn’t started all season played great and responded and gave them a tough challenge. I’m really proud of the kids,”
Cottrell said the team set lofty goals going into the season and they still hang up their cleats having accomplished a lot.
The Chargers are still the only team to knock off highly-ranked The Woodlands and took home the championship of the Fritz Memorial Tournament.
“And we learned some good lessons along the way,” Cottrell added.
“Coming into the playoff game with the adversity after the Byron Nelson game, we showed a lot of character. That’s all we can ask.”
The Chargers will graduate nine seniors, five of which were starters.
But the future is still bright at Central.
“Our JV team was really strong, winning the district JV 1 division,” Cottrell said. “They stepped it up and they’ve bought in and the commitment is there. We’re excited about the future of the program.”