With less than three minutes remaining, Trophy Club Nelson’s Gabe Segovia was crashing the back post when a cross surprisingly found its way through to him.
He calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net, and then not-so-calmly celebrated with his teammates. That goal, against Keller Central on Friday night, clinched the outright District 5-6A boys soccer title for the Bobcats, the program’s fourth straight.
Nelson (17-2-1) won the 4A state title in 2014, but last year crashed out in the bi-district round of the 6A playoffs against Flower Mound, the fourth seed from District 6-6A.
“We’ve talked about it a lot,” Nelson coach Howard Putter said. “After the run the year before, I think the guys figured out they weren’t invincible and could be beat. Hopefully this year we take care of business a little better.”
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Senior Mason Shank was part of that state title team and said the lettermen refocused after last year’s early exit.
“We came back on the first day after losing that and said, ‘This is not going to happen again,’ ” he recounted. “We’re going to make sure our leadership is much better. Our team chemistry was so much better this year.”
A key characteristic this team shares with the state champion squad, according to Putter, is the ability to excel in close contests.
“Finding ways to win tight games like this,” he said after the 1-0 victory against Keller Central. “We’ve had a lot of close games. This is a tough district.”
Meanwhile, the handful of players who were on hand for the title run can bring insight and perspective for those underclassmen who weren’t. Shank said his best advice is simply to want it.
“Passion. Lots of passion,” he said. “When it comes to games like these, there’s lots of emotions coming out, so just play like you want it.”
Lake Ridge hot
District 14-5A has already wrapped up and despite losing several key starters from last season’s team that didn’t lose a game until the playoffs, Mansfield Lake Ridge claimed its third consecutive boys district title.
“I knew it would be difficult leadership-wise and finding that one goal scorer, but they kind of did it their own way,” Eagles coach Cory Elolf said.
Lake Ridge hit a midseason slump in early February in which it lost three of four games, but closed strong with six straight victories to finish 17-3. Not quite undefeated, but also not the same team as last season, and Elolf thinks having a bad stretch was a good opportunity to experience some adversity that last season’s team didn’t.
“We’re definitely younger; not as many seniors on the field,” Elolf said. “But they’ve been able to grow throughout the season. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes. Last year we didn’t have many mistakes, so when things went bad it went real bad for us [and we lost] in the playoffs in the second round. Hopefully [this team] can learn from the mistakes we had earlier this season.”
While Fort Worth South Hills star Esmie Gonzales grabbed a lot of attention this season for breaking the 24-year-old national high school career goal scoring record, it was Fort Worth Arlington Heights that claimed the District 7-5A girls title, running the Yellow Jackets’ streak to eight consecutive district championships dating to the 2008 season.