JANUARY 28, 2020
The Coppell boys soccer team took its first step into the District 6-6A season on the right foot last Friday, winning 2-0 against Irving MacArthur. Now for their second district match tonight, the Cowboys play Hebron at Buddy Echols Field at 7:30 p.m.
Coming out of preseason with a 2-4-3 record, Hebron also opened its district season last Friday with a 1-1 tie against Irving Nimitz.
The Cowboys have seen a progressively younger starting 11 over the past three seasons. It touted 22 senior players in the 2017-18 season, with the starting line up being nearly all seniors. The 2018-19 season saw 14 seniors, with the starting 11 being mostly seniors with some frequent juniors. This year, Coppell is equipped with one of its most diverse and young squads – with two freshmen and several sophomores and juniors often frequenting the field.
“I don’t know if we’ve had something like that, ever,” Coppell coach James Balcom said. “So we knew it was gonna take a little time through preseason to kind of get these guys up to speed. The district has started and we have played really well our last three games. It’s good to kind of see them coming into their own, getting ready to play. The older guys have been here before provided leadership and stability so it is starting to mix well together.”
One of the big changes this year is the loss of some experienced seniors. For example, current Harding University freshmen player Joe Ruedi was a key tool in Coppell attacks last year and has left a noticeable hole in Coppell’s offense. However, holes left from the absence of last year’s players have left space for younger players to step up.
“For one, this year’s varsity plays a lot more directly than last year’s varsity team,” Coppell senior captain midfielder Nathan Hernandez said. “It’s hard to judge what’s different right now because we saw a lot of formation changes at the beginning of the season. One clear difference is we have a more vertical style of play. The build-up play is quicker now, and we have a lot more high-risk, high-reward type passing.”
Though it experimented with various formations at the beginning of the preseason, the team is mostly sticking to the classic 4-3-3, which players have been playing with since freshman year.
District 6-6A stands out as one of the more competitive 6A districts. With powerhouses such as Marcus having many returning players and current state champions Flower Mound fighting for a playoff spot, the Cowboys are prepared for a tough season.
“It is probably the toughest district in the state,” Balcom said. “Whoever comes out in the 1-4 seed has a legitimate shot to get the state championship and a good playoff run. Our goal is to get as high up in the seed as possible, get to playoffs and be competitive in our district. We know it’s going to be a fight from from now until mid-March.”