A bi-district playoff can reveal so many unexplainable results.
Sometimes, the better team doesn’t play like the team it had been all year. Sometimes, the underdog just has everything working. Those conspire to create the upset.
So when Northwest Byron Nelson suffered a 4-1 upset loss to Plano East in the Class 6A Region I bi-district playoffs this past Friday, the aforementioned occurred. A couple of set pieces off of corner kicks worked for the Panthers. The Bobcats didn’t play like they normally have and wound up giving up an own goal.
Thus, the Bobcats season stunningly closed. Nelson finished the season at 18-3-1 and 12-2 in District 5-6A.
“We had some chances to make it game but when you give up four goals, it’s really tough,” Nelson head coach Howard Putter said. “The own goal is something that was pretty hard for everyone. Plano East was just flying around.”
Really, it was the precise execution off of corners that did it for the Panthers. They were able to score on two of them and created enough pressure on the Nelson defense to get the Bobcats to play an uncomfortable style.
In fact, Nelson surrendered four goals for the first time in three years. Maybe the long layoff had something to do with the Nelson performance. The Bobcats had not played in 14 days and did not have room for a warmup game earlier in the week.
Conversely, Plano East had a little momentum working for it as it wrapped up the regular season the preceding Monday. However, Putter didn’t really blame any of those factors. Plano East just played better.
“When we got behind 3-1, I think we panicked a little bit because we hadn’t been in that situation,” Putter said. “I just saw some things that I had not seen in about 18 to 20 games. Really, it seemed like the harder we played, the worse it became.
“We knew Plano East had four individuals who were really good and that we had to pay attention to them. But they hurt us.”
Plano East won’t share the same district with Nelson in 2017 and 2018. But the caliber of play taught Nelson some valuable lessons about what it is about to face when it moves into that district.
Nelson will share the new District 5-6A with the four Lewisville ISD schools – Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, Lewisville and Lewisville Hebron – along with Carroll, Euless Trinity and Hurst. L.D. Bell.
Putter also has to use this offseason to craft together a deep roster. His program loses 15 seniors. Several key returners are junior midfielder and forward Kenny Aryree and sophomore midfielder Gabe Segovia.
The work that the Bobcats do between the lines will parallel what they do away from them. This team will be working out twice a week during the rest of the offseason.
“Definitely, we have to get stronger and faster,” Putter said. “There are some huge schools in terms of enrollment that we’re going to play. But we rebuilt the roster from last year and had some success. We have a good program here.”