ALEDO, Texas — The Indian soccer teams begun the season a combined 9-0, not unlike the undefeated runs of Waxahachie High School's football and basketball teams.
Unlike them, however, these fleet-footed Indians have three tournament championships under their belt.
While the varsity notched back-to-back tournament titles, the junior varsity won its first of the season Saturday during the Moritz Kia Tournament of Champions at Bearcat Stadium.
The varsity — with the help of senior goalkeeper and tournament MVP Kade Tomlinson — didn't allow a single goal during their tournament play.
"The award was just a plaque. It was an amazing feeling, and I felt respected, but the sense of raising the trophy with my teammates, and sharing the group effort, that was everything," he said about the award and holding three teams scoreless – including a penalty shootouts in the tournament's final two games. "My defense is a rock. We have some guys that can play but it's more of a family this year, even though we have a five-man rotation. There's not a single time that I'm nervous about the other team having their way with my guys. It helps that they can sort of break the mentality of the other attackers and force shots that aren't very favorable for them."
That mentality is what helped Waxahachie's varsity beat Alvarado 4-0, Aledo 1-0 and Arlington Heights 1-0 High Schools and outscore the three opponents six to nil during 180 minutes of high school soccer. It also helped the junior varsity dispatch South Hills High School 3-2, Aledo High School 3-0 and Ennis High School 4-0 during their three games.
Goals by Jordy Ortiz (2), Rolando Nieto and Adrian Mota and assists by Nieto (2) and Ryan Hay helped the Indians blank Alvarado in the tournament kickoff. Alan Hernandez's two-goal effort and TJ Lacey's goal with 30 seconds left in the game as well as an Erick Perez assist helped move the junior varsity into the Championship Bracket.
While both Indian teams scored shutout wins — the JV received goals from Hernandez, Jordan Beechum, Issiah Vazquez and assists from Hernandez and Lacey — during the tournament's second round, the varsity needed four shootout goals from Ortiz, Nieto, Hay and Tyson Beechum.
"Every player scored so we never actually got to the fifth kicker [Raymond Kennedy]," Indian Head Coach Seth Riley said. "We were confident coming in the shootout and in the strategy we like to use. We had a practice shootout in our three scrimmages and blocked the first shot in every one, so we knew if we could get them behind they'd be banking on trying to get back in the game. Especially since we hit all of our kicks. Kade blocked the first shot — a beautiful kick we thought was going to go in, but he just extended and deflected it over the top of the net. The second kicker sailed it over the top bar trying to adjust. That fourth kick [for us] sealed it at 4-2."
Both he and Tomlinson said the momentum of that shootout victory helped propel both teams to and through the tournament championship — the first of the 2016-17 JV season. It was the second of the varsity's run this year after beating Alamo Heights 2-1 Jan. 7 at Alamo Heights High School on the power of Jordy Ortiz (assist by Zane McCulley ) and Tyson Beechum (assist by Raymond Kennedy) goals.
While there was controversy about whether Ortiz's kick was a goal in the championship round — the second of back-to-back shootout implications on consecutive days for the Indians — the other four players, including Kennedy, slammed the ball into the back of the net.
"When it comes down to shootouts, it's all confidence," Riley said. "We know that if they give us a chance we have a good chance of making them pay for it."
The JV routed Ellis County rival Ennis in a title-worthy shutout with help from two goals from Lacey and a goal each from Hernandez and Emmanuel Nwokonko and assists from Hernandez Jordan and Austin Andrus. The varsity's title, however, was defined by all-over-the-field defense and well-placed goals by the shootout quintuplet.
"This season differs from last by the way the guys carry themselves. You can see the passion and the authority that seeps out of them," Tomlinson said. "Whether it be practice, a scrimmage or a tournament, our guys tasted that first playoff win and want a ring. We want success. After tasting a small piece of that, there was no going back. We have a goal that everyone is putting all they have into achieving."
Despite back-to-back-to-back tournament wins and an unblemished beginning that may be the first in program history, Riley said their growth now is only a precursor to what will be needed in the weeks ahead. He noted the likes of Lancaster, Mansfield ISD, Midlothian and Red Oak High Schools that will battle for the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 district positions and look to end their streak and sink them to the bottom of the 10-5A standings.
"If we're trying to trace a tournament win for varsity in all our years — and we don't think there has been one [before this year] even though we can't 100 percent prove it — we haven't found one yet," he said. "We think it's the first time this program has ever started the season undefeated and with three tournament wins. It really spins off our motto since day one, 'Train to Reign." We've started the season with two varsity tournament wins and now one for the junior varsity. Hopefully, that translates into district success. That's what really matters. The tournaments are fun and we all enjoy them, but we've got to be able to do it in district play."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.