Long way down: Cowboy comeback falls short against Allen

Anjali Krishna, Executive Editor-in-Chief

McKINNEY – Coppell coach James Balcolm, through this momentous season for the Coppell boys soccer team, spoke often about the law of averages: his simple belief that with the number of opportunities the Cowboys were creating, they must eventually start to go in and average out their losing record.

Balcolm was proven correct; the Cowboys, after losing or tying its first eight district matches, at the bottom of District 6-6A standings, would take five consecutive wins to qualify for the Class 6A Region I bi-district playoffs against Allen at McKinney ISD Stadium on Friday. 

However, the clock ran out for the Cowboys before the averages could balance themselves out against the Eagles. Coppell fell to the Eagles, 2-0, ending its season, 7-9-6.

“Loss is always painful but the last one just sucks the most,” Balcolm said. “It shows their resilience and their fight to stage this comeback, and go toe-to-toe with Allen in the first round of playoffs. This group overcame everything and they put themselves in a place to get a chance to beat the best team in the state.” 

Coppell arrived with momentum it carried for the past five matches from its kickoff, creating opportunities play by play. The first of these was junior midfielder Ryder Brock’s shot to the goalpost with 23 remaining minutes in the first half. Though Brock’s shot hit the post without finding the net, the Cowboys were in control. 

Yet Allen, District 5-6A champions with a fierce, young team, responded. While Coppell created opportunities, the Eagles created a magnificent play: a free kick from junior midfielder Dylan Berry went precisely to senior midfielder Diego Morales, then perfectly past Coppell senior goalkeeper Arath Valdez. 

“Unfortunately, that goal was enough tonight,” Balcolm said. “We battled hard. I know the boys know that.”

Though the Eagles would keep this lead through the match, the score by no means reflected the continual Coppell fight. Allen’s defense struggled to fight off a set piece off corner kicks, while Allen goalkeeper Alec Setterberg defended against free kicks from Stone, sophomore midfielder Sam Stone and Coppell junior midfielder Preston Taylor.

“That first half was one of the best we ever played,” Taylor said. “We worked so hard down to the last minute.”

Still, the Cowboys’ earlier season plague followed them throughout the match, as each of the many opportunities went just wide, just over or safe into the arms of Setterberg. Only in the 80th minute was it over for the Cowboys, fighting through the end, as Allen junior midfielder Evan Pustejovsky sank a shot deep to the net. With most of the team on the opposite goal, worn-out by 80 minutes of back and forth, no Cowboys were able to return and defend.

“The ending was ruthless,” Coppell senior midfielder Pedro Peréz-Pareja said. “They were huge; we had nobody over six feet on our team, while they were all physical, their whole starting lineup over six foot.”

Allen advances to play Irving in the Class 6A Region I area playoffs, while the Cowboys end their season.

“All year, it started off that we couldn’t get the win, we couldn’t get the goal,” Balcom said. “We probably created over a 100 scoring opportunities and they’re not going in so eventually, they’ve somehow got to start going in. And a couple finally did. Law of averages started to work out. Same thing goes tonight. We’re hitting the post, all over the goal, and the keeper is making saves. Just didn’t work out with the clock tonight. But we knew we were doing everything right to beat the top team in the state tonight.”

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