FRISCO - During its first season, North Texas SC claimed both the regular season title and the playoff championship. For a team that steadfastly claimed that the club’s primarily goal was player development, it was a remarkable achievement. While improvement on the field was crucial important to this triumph, there was another aspect of growth that helped spur the club towards a phenomenal first season.
After a 1-0 victory over Greenville Triumph that clinched the USL League One Championship for the Texas-based team, Head Coach Eric Quill was ecstatic. To see his players develop and grow over the course of the year, with that all culminating in a Championship victory was a vindication of the style of play he had preached over the course of the year. But there was one aspect that stood out to Quill.
“We wanted to see the players become leaders,” Quill explained. “These are young guys playing against adults, and we wanted to see who would get stuck into the tackle, who goes and challenges for the ball. We saw today that our team is full of men who are going to give everything they have 100% of the time.”
Some of this leadership was obvious to see in key players. Center back Brecc Evans wore the captain’s armband in every game he started, and he showed excellent leadership in a variety of areas. He organized an excellent defense that tied for the most clean sheets in league play. That defense also kept two clean sheets in their two playoff games and as Bill Bellichick famously said, "If you don't let them score, you can't lose."
Despite the various challenges the USL League One Champions faced, North Texas SC General Manager Matt Denny believed Quill showed excellent man management over the course of the year that allowed leaders to blossom within the team, saying “man management is a big task for this USL team, and with all the players going up and down, he kept them focused and motivated. You see it with staff as well. He had done it in a positive way.”
With a massive squad where 38 players made at least one appearance, the creation of the USL League One team filled a critical role by allowing FC Dallas Academy players to get a taste of the professional game. “This team was created to bridge the gap,” Denny explained. “There was something missing in our development model. These guys learned to win as well, which will serve them well in the future.”
When asked if Quill was able to accomplish his goal of winning while developing leaders, Denny stated that Quill “absolutely, without a doubt,” achieved that goal. “He has gotten people to look at themselves and observe leaders. You see that in training, different people step up no matter the situation. The entire squad has learned to be better leaders. Eric leads by example and sets a high standard for the team.”
Even with a championship trophy in the cabinet, North Texas’s explicit goal was to develop quality players. It is clear that the squad’s growth at the end of the year was about more than just play on the field.