After two consecutive seasons missing out on the playoffs, the Trinity boys soccer team is squarely focused on a return to the postseason. With a mix of youth and experience, the Trojans think they’ve found the formula to get there.
“We got a little spoiled around here for a while,” coach Tracy Duren said. “We were going pretty consistently. It makes you fully appreciate the journey and the benefits of that journey if you do it right. We’ve been humbled and gained a stronger appreciation for the opportunity to even have the chance to go [to the playoffs].”
Trinity finished the weekend with a win and a pair of ties, having defeated Dallas Jefferson 3-0 while drawing 1-1 with both Keller and Fort Worth Paschal. For Duren, one of the most exciting aspects of his team’s early play is that the defense surrendered just a pair of goals – and both were penalty kicks.
“It makes me very proud of our defense and our senior leadership,” Duren said.
Anchoring that back line is a pair of those senior leaders, captain John Tompkins and Javier Carreon. Those two also play club soccer together, so that familiarity gives Duren plenty of confidence in his team’s own end.
If there was an overriding question mark coming in, it was whether the offense would be able to create and capitalize on scoring opportunities, something the club struggled with a year ago. After the first week of games, Duren sees this team ahead of last season.
“I’m encouraged both defensively with what we’ve managed to do and offensively that we’re creating opportunities,” he said. “That’s something we were unable to do consistently last year, so that’s two huge improvements for us.”
The Trojans were young last year, calling up freshmen like Mateo Gonzalez and Jardel Kuate to find an offensive spark. The upside is that now, as sophomores, they have significant varsity experience.
“Last year we were young and not tested,” Duren said. “This year, many of these guys have been in the battles already and they know what to expect and they know what they’ve got to do to try to be successful. I think it’s an exciting mix of young players combined with the juniors and senior leadership we have. It seems to be producing a fun brand of soccer.”
Tompkins also likes the mix of the squad.
“There’s a lot of experience and I think our team has a really good balance of young, new talent with veteran leadership,” he said. “I think that can take us far this year.”
As team leaders, Tompkins and Carreon have taken it upon themselves to organize team meals and other bonding opportunities to strengthen the chemistry off the field as well. But in the end, it all comes back to the primary objective of reaching the playoffs.
“Returning to the playoffs is really what is motivating us,” Tompkins said.