The iridescent glow of floodlights swept over the stands on a chilly March night. The Coppell boys soccer team slowly walked onto Buddy Echols Field, adorned in grey hoodies and red backpacks.
Senior Night: Hebron
It only took Coppell senior midfielder Alex Salvo five minutes to break the deadlock, powering the ball into the net off a corner, giving the Cowboys the lead. It wouldn’t be long for the Cowboys to score again, with both Salvo and Gast adding in two more off two corners and taking a three goal lead within the first 10 minutes of the first half.
The Coppell boys soccer team defeated Hebron, 5-0, on Senior Night at Buddy Echols Field on Tuesday.
“After the first two [goals from Salvo], I was eager to get one and I did,” Gast said. “Having the first three goals in the first [10 minutes] was really good, it energized the team and we fed off that energy all match.”
Trailing by three goals, the Hawks (5-10-2, 3-7-1) struggled getting any offensive rhythm together as the Cowboys ate up anything that came their way. With 4:57 left in the first half, Radicic scored a fourth goal for Coppell off another corner kick, ending the half leading by four goals.
Coppell coach James Balcom pushed the Cowboys to keep fighting through the second half to keep the clean sheet and to obtain the maximum point differential of five, which would help the team in district rankings.
“Coach didn’t want any goals let by and wanted to keep a clean sheet,” Gast said. “We fed off the energy in the first half [to follow through].”
The Cowboys fought to maintain the point differential throughout the second half, fighting on every play and getting stuck in 50-50 challenges to create multiple opportunities.
After smashing a shot off the crossbar a few minutes earlier, Coppell junior midfielder Walker Stone squared a pass to Coppell sophomore forward Ari Robicheaux awaiting at the top of the six-yard box finishing the shot with six seconds left in the match.
“It was good with Senior Night to get some early goals,” Balcom said. “It was nice to enjoy it and not to battle, the seniors got to go out with a nice win. We were happy at the end with the win, this district is tough so overall it was a good night.”
The win leaves Coppell four points clear of third place and six points clear of fourth place, currently held by Flower Mound and Plano respectively, only trailing Marcus by one point. Marcus tied its match against Plano West last night, bringing the Cowboys closer to regaining first place.
Turning tides: Plano
The match was coming to a close with 10 minutes left in the second half and the Cowboys held the one-goal lead. With every pounding step, the team’s defensive intensity grew. But within seconds the energy was lost as the floodlights turned off and the only source of light on the field came from the parking lot, stalling the match for nearly 15 minutes.
The Cowboys shrugged off the two-match losing streak as Coppell defeated Plano, 2-1, on Monday night after a match marked by a brace from Coppell senior forward Brandon Gast.
With 37:06 left in the first half, Plano (10-7-1, 5-5 in District 6-6A) went on a fastbreak counter-attack that ultimately resulted in Coppell senior defender Collin Macdonald tapping in an own goal past Coppell freshman goalie Jacob Campbell, giving Plano a 1-0 lead off the single attack it had all match to that point.
For the next 30 minutes the match was tight, with both Coppell (12-7-1, 8-3) and Plano getting off shots. After the ball was cleared towards the path of Gast, it was a dead on sprint between Plano senior goalie Esteban Rodriquez, Plano senior defender Ethan Wood and him to the ball in open space.
All three arrived at the same time and collided but Gast was the first one back up, collecting the ball and passing it into an open net, tying the match 1-1 with 7:49 remaining in the first half.
“A goal energizes you,” Balcom said. “We’ve played so many matches back to back, you get trapped in a lack of effort and mental toughness at times because you’re exhausted. To get a goal and tie it up, it energizes a team.”
And with 5:21 left in the first half, Gast scored a second time with a left-footed shot from outside the box that fizzed into the bottom right corner of the Plano net.
“[The match] started off pretty slow with my own-goal,” Macdonald said. “There’s nothing we could’ve done about it, it was just unlucky. [To comeback] shows how we are as a team that we fought and got back in it.”
Coming from halftime, the team went to a more defensive mindset and switched its formation to have five in the midfield.
“Plano does a good job of spreading you out and moving the ball side to side,” Balcom said. “We made it difficult for them. We were chasing at times but we did a good job getting behind and defending them well.”
The match was relatively steady throughout the second half, with no goals scored. The Cowboys’ main priority for this second half was to make sure the Wildcats did not score another goal. The defensive intensity built on top of each other as each Wildcat attempt was thwarted by Campbell and Co.
With 10 minutes left in the second half, the lights killed, sending the pitch into darkness with only the lights from the parking lot to provide visibility.
“[The lights] were a beater,” Gast said. “We were pretty confident in the last 10 minutes and wanted to finish it out when the lights turned off, it was disappointing but we came back out and did what we needed to do.”
Defeating Plano left Coppell in second place of District 6-6A, trailing Marcus by three points.
The stakes are high as Coppell heads into the last three matches of district play with a two-match winning streak.
Coppell have played all three rescheduled matches, returning to the original schedule as it travels to Lewisville on Friday, with play beginning at 7:30 p.m.
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