MARCH 5, 2020
The clock had just hit the 10 minute mark and the scoreboard was tied. The Coppell bench was on its feet and the stands behind held the same wary air.
The Cowboys had never needed a goal as bad as now this season. The team was face-to-face with Marcus, the No. 1 team in Class 6A with a near spotless 17-0-1 record. And now, Coppell was a single goal away from causing one of the biggest upsets this season.
Coppell senior striker Tom Vazhekatt knew that the team needed a clutch goal more than ever.
And he delivered.
Despite being the sole attacker in the box surrounded by three Marcus players, Vazhekatt leaped above the defenders and hit the back of the net with a header off a beautiful cross by Coppell freshman forward Preston Taylor.
“We just needed one good play to turn it around,” Vazhekatt said. “I don’t I have ever got up in the air like that. When I saw the ball go in off my header, I was ecstatic.”
The scoreboard read 2-1 at the final whistle and the field was suddenly flooded with a flurry Coppell bench and the student section bursting with celebrations.
Though Coppell had begun the District 6-6A season with a poor start, the team has completely reinvented itself since the start of the second half of the season. The team has boosted itself from second to last to third place with a 5-4-2 record, this win marks its fourth win in a row and solidifies its return to peak shape.
Marcus still holds its spot as District 6-6A leaders, but its first loss of the season will possibly see its ranking as first in the state and 12th in the nation drop.
“That was a team we wouldn’t have fully expected to beat a month ago,” Coppell senior defender Nathan Hernandez said. “This match really just proved that we are back on top… In fact, [coach James Balcom] told us that Marcus has never been 0-0 at halftime this season. Doing that against them and then coming back and winning even after being scored on is big and shows how far our team can go and how much potential we have.”
The match saw fast and energetic performances from both teams, despite several close shots, the first half ended scoreless. The second half was much more eventful– Coppell senior midfielder Caleb Razo put in a cross from the right wing in the 49th minute which deflected to Coppell freshman midfielder Nic Radicic at the mouth of the goal, leading to a tap-in goal.
The first goal prompted Marcus to considerably up its offense. However, a great performance by the Coppell defense and Coppell sophomore goalkeeper Arath Valdez held the shots at bay. Marcus eventually equalized the match in the 64th minute with a goal by Marcus senior Sam Coad off a cross by Marcus senior Hunter Hoffman.
Following Vazhekatt’s clutch goal in the final minutes, Coppell adopted a 4-5-1 formation, locking down its defense and preventing Marcus from scoring another equalizer.
It is also worthy to note Marcus missing one of its key players, senior Tomas Pondeca, who was out of town playing for the USA Futsal National Team.
Coppell plays at Irving next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.