WAXAHACHIE — With a pair of scrimmage wins now behind them, the Waxahachie Indian soccer team will head into two weekends of tournament play with a full head of steam.
The Indians defeated 6A Richardson and 4A Life Oak Cliff by a combined 5-2 with four different players accounting for goals in their two wins on Friday and Tuesday.
“The competition was good. We played a very good opponent out of 6A and then one of the top teams coming out of 4A who I think has the best chance of getting to the state tournament,” said Waxahachie Head Coach Seth Riley. “They both gave us some pretty good little looks and that is what you want out of a scrimmage. It’s also good to go against that level of competition to see maybe where some of your holes might be. We have a lot guys returning, but you just never know.”
Against Richardson on Friday, where former Indian Jackson Almon is an assistant coach, the Tribe used goals by Zane McKulley and Jordy Ortiz for a 2-1 win.
McKulley scored the season and game opener off of a perfectly placed 55-yard corner kick off the right foot of sophomore Ryan Hay. The right-to-left line-drive strike forced the Richardson goalkeeper to stay in goal, while McKulley was left alone on the left for an easy header. Ortiz added the second goal, and eventual game winner, by way of a penalty kick.
In game two against preseason 4A No. 3 Life Oak Cliff, three different Indians found their way to the scoring column in the 3-1 win.
Much like the first game, Tyson Beechum turned a corner kick off Raymond Kennedy’s foot into a header for the opening goal. Ortiz then dribbled through a pair of defenders for his second of the preseason and Rolando Nieto used two touches after a pass for his first.
“It’s good to see that and to see assists coming from defenders,” Riley said. “The ball is being distributed well. The goals didn’t all come through live play, but set pieces are one of the most important parts of the game, too. To have valuable players who can go up and win balls is pretty big.”
Riley also noted he spent a lot of time watching to see who would step up to fill a hole left at center-back. Thus far, it appears Michael McKay has put those worries to bed, for now at least, with his play during the two warm-up matches.
“He did really well,” the Indians’ head coach said. “There is still a long way to go but he has progressed pretty well from one scrimmage to the next. You can tell that he is learning and improving.”
Waxahachie will now shift its focus as the Tribe departs Friday morning for San Antonio and a tournament hosted by Alamo Heights High School. The Indians open the three-game tournament Friday against Arlington Heights at 3 p.m. Regardless of a win or loss, they will return to the field Saturday at 9 a.m., with updates throughout the weekend posted to the Indians’ Facebook page.
Riley said the weekend would allow his team to test several phases of their approach — from substitutions to rotations and even where certain players fit in different situations.
“It’s going to be a lot of moving guys around and seeing how versatile we can get, just because that helps us as a team,” he explained. “[…] The second tournament is kind of when I prefer to start finding our niche and testing out what we think we are good at and make adjustments from there. Right now, we just want to see what options we have and then test out those options before district starts."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith