Mansfield Sports

Summit boys soccer eying another deep postseason run

Mansfield Summit captain Josue Munoz (18) is shown in the team’s 2014 playoff game vs. eventual state champion Trophy Club Nelson.
Mansfield Summit captain Josue Munoz (18) is shown in the team’s 2014 playoff game vs. eventual state champion Trophy Club Nelson. Special to the Star-Telegram Ste

Two seasons ago, the Summit boys soccer team advanced four rounds deep in the playoffs, losing to eventual state champion Trophy Club Byron Nelson in the regional quarterfinals. Since then, stability hasn’t been the most applicable term for the program.

Now on their second head coach since that 2014 postseason run, the Jaguars feel they’re rebuilding almost from the ground up, starting with this season.

Alex Bravo came over this year from North Crowley, where he had served as a varsity assistant. He inherited a program that graduated 15 seniors from last season’s club, which exited the playoffs in the area round.

“I saw the talent here,” Bravo said. “The question was, could I put everyone in the right positions to be successful as a whole unit.”

The cupboard wasn’t entirely bare. A half-dozen players with varsity starting experience remained from last season, but there was one glaring void.

“My first question was, ‘Do we have a goalkeeper?’” Bravo recounted. “You can have all the field players, but if you don’t have a keeper, you’re in trouble.”

It turns out the Jags did not have a goalkeeper. Bravo had to offer the position to anyone willing to take it. A pair did, including junior Austin Brown, who has earned the starting role.

Bravo noted the tendency for Summit games to be high-scoring this season, and attributes that to Brown’s inexperience in goal, though the coach is happy to see his progress.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, the offense has been fairly prolific, averaging more than 3.5 goals per game. Nineteen of those goals have come from junior captain Josue Munoz, who thinks the team is still getting better.

“It took us a while to build a good chemistry, but we continue to build on that,” Munoz said.

Fellow captain Ricardo Martinez, who leads the team in assists with 14, adds that a lot of the chemistry seems to start away from games and practices.

“We all hang out off the field. We’re all close,” Martinez said. “I think the way we hang out outside [of soccer] is the same way we play.”

Much of the team’s offensive success also comes from Bravo pulling the right strings. That was a process started with a lot of initial analysis. Rather than come in and instantly start making changes and installing new systems, he spent a month just watching the team as it was, noting players’ natural abilities and tendencies. Then he started tinkering.

“You have to adapt to the player personnel you have,” Bravo said. “I do like to give my players some freedom to be creative and express their soccer abilities. In that sense, when it comes to my attacking six players, they do have a lot of freedom to move around and they tend to play in their natural positions.”

For the most part, the players bought into Bravo’s changes.

“From the first time I met him, it seemed like he knew what he was doing,” Martinez said. “And he does.”

Martinez added that Bravo treats his players like friends, and allows them to speak their minds, which has actually built their confidence. And for veteran players, like Munoz, they’re hoping Bravo can also stabilize the program. Munoz has already played for three different head coaches at Summit.

“Each coach has a different mindset and routine,” he said. “One year you’re playing this type of way in this formation, then the next you have a whole new formation and different beliefs.”

With only games this week against Timberview and Lancaster remaining in the district schedule, the Jaguars are in good shape for the playoffs, and intend to stick around longer than last season.

“I think we can make a longer playoff run than we did last year,” Munoz said. “I think we have a really good team this year.”