In physical matchup, Taylor & Cowboys prevail to advance

Marcus Krum, Sports Editor

After being tackled from behind in the box with 13 minutes left to play, junior attacker Nick Taylor lined the ball up on the penalty mark. Down 2-1 in the bi-district round of playoffs, the Cowboys (18-0-2 overall, 12-0-0 District 7-6A) needed a goal to stay alive in a season full of hopes of a deep playoff run.

And just as he has done time and time again this season, Taylor delivered, making the penalty kick and scoring the dagger in Coppell’s 4-2 win over the Mansfield Tigers (8-12-7, 4-6-3 District 8-6A).

“We just had a desire to move on [in playoffs],” Taylor said. “I don’t want to lose playoffs first round, I want to win state. The intensity we had really led to the goals that I scored in the end.”

In addition to Taylor’s penalty kick equalizer and match-sealing score, sophomore forward Wyatt Priest added a goal off a header in the 73rd minute that originally handed the Cowboys the lead.

“It was about responding, not folding, and just continuing to fight until the end” Coppell coach Chad Rakestraw said. “That is exactly what they did, and I’m incredibly proud of them.”

From the start of the game, the Tigers came out extremely physical, catching the Cowboys a little on their heels. Two Mansfield players picked up yellow cards in the first half for reckless play on the Cowboys keeper and on balls in the air.

On paper, the nationally ranked no. 3 Coppell team looked as if they would overwhelm a Mansfield team that just made the playoffs, but the Cowboys only held a 1-0 lead going into the half.

“[The physicality] made a huge impact,” Rakestraw said. “Mansfield was very very physical, very determined. Their intensity was very good. They were getting to a lot of first balls before us, and even second ones too. It just really changed the tide of the game.”

After the Tigers caught the Coppell defense out of position for the equalizer, then scored once more on a beautiful shot into the upper 90 from 30 yards out, the Cowboys trailed by a goal in the 63rd minute.

This is when Taylor, Priest, and the Cowboys proved their high state and national ranking is no fluke, coming back down late in a road playoff game to score three unanswered in the final 13 minutes of play.

In their next matchup, the Cowboys take on area no. 3 Flower Mound Marcus, who soundly defeated the Keller Indians 3-0 on Thursday.

“It’s about showing up to play from the start,” Rakestraw said. “Tonight, we were a bit on our heels, a bit apprehensive, expecting the game to come to us. We allowed Mansfield to come back in. We just have got to be able to show up from the beginning and play.”