Two local boys’ high school teams, Dallas Jesuit and Frisco Wakeland, head to the state tournament later this week looking to make history. Jesuit (23-0) looks to become the first private school to win a UIL championship and also to finish the year unbeaten. Wakeland (26-2-3), on the other hand, looks to win the Class 4A title in just their fourth year of existence and first trip to state.
Jesuit’s run to the 5A state tournament has seen them win twice via shootout, including last Saturday against El Paso Bel Air. In the area round, the Rangers also advanced with a shootout win over Coppell.
Having such close wins is good and bad according to Jesuit head coach Charles DeLong.
“On one hand, you say we’re battle-tested and we know what it’s like to compete with everything on the line on one play,” he said. “We know how to come back one goal down. Those are all good things. We talked today (Tuesday) that since the playoffs started, we haven’t played well. Some of that is because of other teams getting after us and we’ve lost our edge a little bit. Now, we’re still competing and fighting but that edge where we’re knocking the ball around, being creative and playing with some excitement to the attacking part of our game hasn’t been quite what it was during the season.”
In fact, Jesuit has scored more than one goal just twice in their five playoff games. In the opening round against Duncanville they won 5-0, and in the regional quarterfinals, the Rangers handed Flower Mound Marcus a 2-1 defeat.
Now they face Austin Westlake (19-5-3), a team very similar to Marcus, at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Georgetown.
“A friend of mine was giving me the lowdown on them. He saw them play a couple of times,” DeLong said. “They sound very much like Marcus. They’re very athletic and very competitive. They like to score from free kicks, so we have to be on our toes there. They’ve got two or three really good players and the rest are good players. Apparently, they’ve got a very good goalie. We’ll have our hands full.”
While the Jesuit coach and his team are focused first on beating Westlake, there is still no denying what it would mean to win state.
“Well, it would be great. We’d like to make history,” DeLong said. “That would be fantastic. To win a state championship, public or private, is great. To say we’re the first private school to do it, that probably makes it better. It’d be a nice completion of the circle that started back in the 60s when Jesuit was the only high school soccer team public or private.”
Frisco Wakeland is also looking to make some history of their own. The Wolverines advanced last weekend by defeating Richardson Pearce 1-0 on Friday and shutting out Kilgore 2-0 on Saturday to earn their first-ever trip to state. Wakeland has not allowed a goal in their first five playoff games.
“The confidence level is extremely high right now. Anytime you haven’t given up a goal in the playoffs so far, I guess you’re doing something right,” Wakeland head coach Rusty Oglesby said. “We really feel comfortable with where we’re going right now, with what our plan is and we’re not trying to change too much as we keep going. We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible as we get ready. Not giving up a goal is a huge deal and I think it’s becoming a pride thing for the whole team, not just those back three or four players. Now, nobody wants to give up that goal.”
In both of those wins, the Wolverines got the game-winning tally from a somewhat unlikely source- junior defender Casey Cantor. Before Friday, Cantor hadn’t scored the entire year but he delivered the winner against Pearce and again in the regional final with Kilgore.
“He’s got a phenomenal shot and he’s a very talented kid. He’s always enjoyed getting the assists more,” Oglesby said. “He’s never cared about scoring. He just does his thing and wants to see more kids score goals. He was faced with two opportunities this weekend, one was at his feet and he didn’t have a choice but to put it in the back of the net. The second one, because he was working hard and has such a great shot, it deflected and went into the goal. I think we’ll start seeing a more dangerous kid as we go into the state tournament because he’s had two goals in the back of the net and what huge goals they were. We already know what he can do to get the ball to other kids. I think we’re going to see some good things from him this weekend. If I had to name an MVP for the regional tournament, it would be him.”
After winning their first two playoff games by a combined score of 9-0, Wakeland got a wakeup call in the sectional round against Frisco, a game the Wolverines won 1-0 in double overtime.
“The game worked out the way we wanted it to. They packed in, played very smart and were coached well,” Oglesby said. “It was a great wakeup call to change our philosophy a little bit but to also show us we can’t just show up and expect things a certain way. We have to impose our will if we want things to go a certain way.”
On Friday at 6 p.m., his team will face Dripping Springs (23-2-3), a team the Wakeland coach is very familiar with.
“We know that they have a forward that is the 2009 Central Texas Player of the Year named Chris Tyrpak. He had 37 goals as a junior and I’m pretty sure he’s over 30 goals this year,” Oglesby said. “They won 23 games and only lost two. You don’t win 23 without doing something right along the way. When I was the head coach at Marble Falls, Dripping Springs was in the same district with us. So I’m very familiar with the type of players they are. They have a great work ethic and will remind us a lot of Richardson Pearce and how they played us in the regional semifinals.”
Two area girls’ teams also head to state this weekend. In Class 4A, defending state champion Richardson Pearce (22-4-2) will face Canyon Randall (18-3-2) in a state semifinal on Friday at 11 a.m. The defending girls’ champion in Class 5A is McKinney Boyd (27-0-3) and the Lady Broncos will face Katy Seven Lakes (18-8-2) on Thursday at 11 a.m.