Written by Corbett Smith
Trophy Club Byron Nelson soccer teams make quick rise thanks to area talent, growing community
TROPHY CLUB — Byron Nelson’s girls soccer coach Philip Salyer grew up in Trophy Club, riding his bicycle in open fields and lots near where the current high school stands.
“None of this was here,” Salyer said, gesturing to the state-of-the-art high school, which opened in 2009, and the community that surrounds it.
Over the last few years, Byron Nelson’s athletic programs have mimicked the rise of the town, northwest on State Highway 114 from Southlake. The new school isn’t just respectable in sports; it’s quickly climbing the ranks of the area’s top all-around 4A schools.
This season, the girls and boys soccer teams are off to fast starts, both in the top five of SportsDay’s Class 4A rankings. The girls, ranked No. 4, are 17-1-1, while the boys, ranked No. 3, are 13-3-2.
For boys coach Howard Putter and Salyer, a former FC Dallas defender, the school’s success is combination of two things: a glut of soccer talent in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the fast-growing community.
“It’s a great area for soccer,” Putter said. “A lot of kids have been involved in either rec or club soccer at a high level.”
It’s not unheard-of for a newer school to dominate on the pitch. Over the last decade, five soccer programs from the D-FW area have won state titles within six years of their schools’ opening.
But Byron Nelson’s quick rise in soccer is surprising, considering the plight of its district’s original high school, Justin Northwest. Spending time in 5A and 4A over the last decade, Northwest has only four playoff appearances between both programs during that span.
Byron Nelson’s girls teams have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, making the state final last season only to lose in a shootout to Highland Park. Its boys team made the regional quarterfinals.
The desirability of the area is a reason for the team’s success. Two of Byron Nelson’s stars — Texas signee Marchelle Davis and fellow forward Lynnsey Brim — moved in from out of state two years ago. Junior midfielder Madison Hall, an Arkansas pledge, moved from Birdville this school year. Hall and Davis were co-offensive MVPs last season in 11-4A.
“We had the right pieces,” Salyer said. “There’s no secret, really, other than you have good players who work hard and like to play together.”
The girls team has four players who signed to play in college this month, with two juniors already committed to Division I programs.
The boys team is led by forward Jalen Jones and goalie Travis Carmichael, all-district selections from last season, as well as defenders Chris Pratt and Brent Powell. Pratt was the district’s freshman of the year in 2012.
Putter, who started the Keller Fossil Ridge boys program in 1995 after stints at Keller and El Paso, said his team’s development has been propelled by a mind-set that permeates the school.
“There’s a lot of pressure within to succeed,” Putter said. “Everybody is working hard to make the playoffs and the coaches and athletes are dedicated to that.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.
New school, quick title
Five area high schools have won state soccer titles within a short time after opening their doors:
*Also won 5A title in 2011.