The Waxahachie boys soccer team reached the championship game of the Highway 287 Tournament for the first time Saturday, but it is still in search of its first tournament championship.
The Indians had the formidable task of taking on Rockwall in the title game and couldn’t pull off the upset in the 4-1 loss. Rockwall is a 5A powerhouse that has gone to the second round of the playoffs each of the last three years so it’s not the toughest pill to swallow.
Waxahachie trailed 3-0 at halftime and could have just mailed it in the rest of the game, but didn’t and played to an even second half.
“They played 1-1 in the second half and I thought that was good,” Waxahachie soccer coach Jason Venable said. “Their first two goals came on set pieces so at least we know what we need to work on now.”
Corner and free kicks cost the Indians in the first half, but it was a penalty kick that got Waxahachie on the board.
Down 3-0 late in the second half, Waxahachie senior midfielder Ivan Anaya had the chance to put his team on the board and he succeeded by drilling a the penalty kick.
It didn’t take long for Rockwall to respond as it added a goal less than five minutes later to secure the victory.
That final goal wasn’t on a set piece, but Venable knows that’s what his team has to improve on in the early stages of the year.
“If it hadn’t been for those, it’s a 2-1 game. But that’s a good team over there. I don’t mind losing to a good program like that,” Venable said. “That’s a win-win for us. I think the boys proved something to themselves by the way they came back in the second half. They really impressed me.”
Rockwall dominated the first two rounds of the tournament and appeared ready to run away with the 287 championship. But Waxahachie held its own.
“I thought that we controlled the ball a lot. We weren’t outclassed. After I saw them play the night before, I thought it was going to be a long day,” Venable said. “But we held our own. Those two set pieces on defense bothered me and if we could finish one on offense then we would have been right in this thing.”
Waxahachie has a handful of young players that haven’t had much experience in that kind of situation so big games like this early in the year will only help in the long run.
“We had never been in our own championship and that’s a good start,” Venable said. “They had some trees, some big boys, out there. We’ve spent some time on the set piece stuff, but not enough. It will get better over time.”
The Indians (2-1) hope to have that experience pay off immediately as they visit DeSoto at 7 p.m. tonight. The team will also play in Aledo’s tournament this weekend.
Waxahachie will play at 5 p.m. Thursday against Crowley then at 2 p.m. Friday against Aledo. How well it plays in those two games will determine when it plays Saturday.
The Indians won’t be home again until they host Highland Park at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4. Waxahachie stunned the Scots on the road last year.