Written by Matt Wixon
Coppell's shot-heavy offense lands the one that matters for return to title match
GEORGETOWN — The Coppell boys soccer team is the defending state champion, but it did very little defending Thursday in its Class 5A semifinal. The Cowboys’ front, middle and back lines, pretty much everyone on the field except goalkeeper Robbie Coens, were in offensive mode from the start at Birkelbach Field.
They needed to be against McKinney Boyd, which packed its defense in front of the goal to thwart Coppell’s potent attack. The strategy worked until the 68th minute, when Justin Todd scored on a header and everyone on Coppell’s sideline exhaled in relief.
“I think you guys took 10 years off my life,” coach Chad Rakestraw told his players after the 1-0 victory, which advanced Coppell (22-1-2) to Saturday’s 1 p.m. title game against Fort Bend Clements, a 3-2 winner Thursday over Brownsville Lopez.
Coppell was credited with only eight shots on goal, but it dominated possession and played most of the game in front of Boyd’s goal. The Cowboys weaved passes between defenders, but the defenders were everywhere, disrupting sets, deflecting shots and deflating Coppell’s enthusiasm.
“At one point, I watched and they had all 11 men behind the 15-yard line [25 yards in front of the goal],” said Todd, a senior forward. “I’ve never seen that in any type of soccer.”
Of course, few opponents have seen a high school team like Coppell, which can string out an opponent’s defense with its speed and deft passing. Boyd (15-5-6) needed an intense defensive strategy after losing to Coppell, 5-1, earlier this season.
“We felt like we would take our chances with contracting, and trying to counter and get out as quick as we could,” Boyd coach Casey Osborn said. “Try to jailbreak a little bit.”
Boyd never got its jailbreak, but it did have a couple of chances. The best probably came with 30 minutes left, when Hayden Brown had an open look about 25 yards in front of the goal. He wasn’t able to get off a solid shot.
Coppell got off lots of shots, but as the shots missed or were deflected, the pressure grew. Without a goal, the match would eventually go to penalty kicks.
Underdogs love that. Favorites dread it.
“It was on all our minds,” Todd said.
As the clocked rolled toward 12 minutes remaining, Coppell had a throw-in from the right sideline. Junior forward Austin Michaelis’ throw-in sailed 20 yards to Todd, who was 5 yards in front of the goal, facing away from it. He jumped and redirected the ball with the back of his head. The ball got past goalkeeper Evan Davies and into the left side of the goal.
“I kind of got my body big,” Todd said, “and then flicked it on backside.”
It hit the back of the net, and Coppell was finally in front.