SAN ANTONIO — For the first time in at least 13 years, if not in all of the program history, the Waxahachie boys’ soccer team hoisted a tournament championship trophy Saturday evening. The Indians knocked off tournament hosts and Region IV No. 5 San Antonio Alamo Heights, 2-1, in the championship match of the San Antonio Alamo Heights Invitational to conclude their weekend trip down south.
“We have had second places and third places and all of that kind of stuff, but in the 13 years that I have been here the boys have never won a tournament,” said Seth Riley, WHS head boys’ soccer coach, after the win. Riley also noted he is unsure of tournament finishes by the 2001-03 Indian soccer teams but is looking into the potentially historic win.
“They always enjoy the trip and being around each other and I would say the tournament is secondary. When they get to go play a tournament and be with each other spending time and hanging out, they enjoy those things,” Riley added. “It’s kind of nice to be able to enjoy that and come away with a tournament win. It kind of seals that trip up the right way.”
Well before Jordy Ortiz scored a goal off of a Zane McCulley assist or Tyson Beechum added the second off a pass from Raymond Kennedy to clinch the come-from-behind win, Riley said his team was focused on testing their versatility and plugging players into several different lineups.
The two-birds-with-one-stone adage can be applied, as the Indians plugged and played, while still managing to compete at a high level against perennial playoff contenders in Alamo Heights, Arlington Heights, and San Antonio MacArthur.
“We saw a lot of things, moved some parts around and feel pretty good about a lot of the areas that were of possible concern,” Riley said. “[…] All three games we really started [our lineup] with the guys who were at practice the most. Then we started to move some parts around and looking at guys in different spots or how well these three guys played up top or how someone else might play with them.
“[…] It was good to get that late lead against Alamo Heights and get to look at what would be the combination when we want to kill it. It was good to get to see that at the very end because we never got to do that all tournament. It was a successful trip in that we got to see our more offensive look, defensive look and kind of more of that core look that we hopefully get to start with.”
During the three wins, five different Indians accounted for the five goals not to come via shootouts. The balance provided in scoring by Roland Nieto, Edgar Nava (1), Gama Chavez (1), Jordy Ortiz (1) and Tyson Beechum (1), along with solid play on the backend by the Indian defense, is what Riley thinks will separate this year’s team from last season’s area finalists.
“I think we have a chance to be stronger late in the match when we need to finish off a game. We have a little more depth than last year,” Riley said. “In that playoff game [against Lufkin], what also hurt us is that we had a starting defender go down and it was his side of the field that couldn’t clear the ball. [Saturday] had a good playoff atmosphere about it, as well. [Alamo Heights] is a team that always goes three or four rounds, religiously. I think both teams had ample chances to really take a commanding part in the game but missed chances throughout the game kept it close and we were able to score off of a set piece, a long throw in, which is the way we got scored on in that game. Good teams in close games, it comes down to set pieces and that’s what it was. It is hard to score sometimes in live play and sometimes you need those set pieces.”
Waxahachie returns to tournament action Thursday in Aledo at 3:30 p.m. for the 2017 Moritz Kia Invitational.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith