Indians end 22-year soccer playoff dry spell against South Oak Cliff
DALLAS, Texas — It took more than two decades and countless players to capture the first soccer playoff victory in the history of boys soccer at Waxahachie High School.
The Indians 2-0 shutout of South Oak Cliff High School on Thursday night at Wilmer-Hutchins High School Football Field wasn’t just domination though, it was redemption.
“It feels really good to get the monkey off your back, so to speak. We’ve been around for 22-plus years, so it was weird because people looked at us and saw we didn’t have a playoff win since you’d think a team would have one by then,” said Seth Riley, Waxahachie High School’s head boys soccer coach. “It’s always good to get it off (the monkey) and move on to new goals. It’s something we talked about after the Ennis game, too. It’s one thing to have a great regular season, but it’s another to do it in the playoffs. Those good records can always be beaten. The one thing that can’t be taken away from you is getting that first playoff win. It’s yours.”
Riley, chuckling softly, jokingly likened the win to the plight of his favorite baseball team, noting their identification with the forlorn fans of the Windy City.
Though he’s only been the Indians coach for two years, he’s been in the program for 20. Riley played varsity soccer for Waxahachie High School from 1996 to 2000 under Jason Venable, the Lady Indians head soccer coach.
“We had a bunch of former alumni and former coaches come out to see us play,” he continued. “It’s just a playoff win, but it was a big deal. It’s like not winning a championship for 110 years in baseball. As Cubs fans, we know what it feels like to go into a drought.”
To get its historical win, Waxahachie High School, courtesy of goals by sophomore Edgar Nava and junior Tyson Beechum, defeated a Golden Bears team that finished the regular season 12-1 and first in district 13-5A.
They also got one of the best performances of the season from junior goalkeeper Kade Tomlinson, who stopped eight Golden Bears’ shots during 80 shutout minutes of playoff soccer.
It’s about wanting to play hard rather than play pretty, said Tyson Beechum.
The Indians junior forward stood tall despite the chill of the night, left leg scraped and red, and the numbers on his jersey all but torn off by South Oak Cliff defenders.
The game had been a physical one, filled with uncalled penalties and rough play by both sides.
“We already came this far, so we wanted to show we came out to not only to play, but win. We’d rather get the victory than highlights,” Beechum continued. “It’s exhilarating, but we’re going to take the win and enjoy it, refocus and move on to round two. We’ve played the top teams in our district, beaten a team that hadn’t lost in four seasons and a really good Dallas team in beat South Oak Cliff. We’re going to keep playing our game — playing hard and winning ugly.”
The 20 players on the current roster weren’t the only Indians celebrating the night, though. More than a dozen graduates and former coaches traveled the 30-some-odd miles and braved the cold to see their alma matter attempt to do what no team had done before.
One of those former players, Anthony Davila, felt the opportunity to see history take shape was so important that he brought his son Noah and his son’s friend Malaki to see the match.
“This is history. These kids can be proud of what they accomplished and know they made history out here tonight,” Davila said. “It’s all a part of the program, what coach Riley is preaching and the way he is leading this team.”
Davila, who was a four-year varsity goalkeeper from 1999 to 2002, played with Riley.
He said the win was crucial to the school as a whole because of the way boys soccer is viewed in terms of sports importance, noting the win added emphasis to the movement Riley has brought to the program.
Davila also said he wanted to make an impression on the boys, who play for the local 8-U Mavericks soccer team.
“Unfortunately, boys soccer in Waxahachie has been kind of low on the totem pole,” he continued. “The win was a building step and something they can be proud of and remember the rest of their lives. We (the alumni) wanted to bring Noah and Malaki out here to show them what they could do if they put their minds to it, try hard and give great effort. We couldn’t be prouder of where the program’s going.”
The Indians will face the defending state champions, Lufkin High School, at 8 p.m. on Friday at Tyler Rose Stadium.