Seven Lakes trailed Taylor by a goal at halftime of their District 19-6A boys soccer game Saturday, March 6. The score was a bit of a surprise, as the Spartans needed a win to stay in the district title race and had shutout the Mustangs, 2-0, in their initial meeting.
Seven Lakes trailed Taylor by a goal at halftime of their District 19-6A game Saturday, March 6. The score was a bit of a surprise, as the Spartans needed a win to stay in the district title race and had shutout the Mustangs, 2-0, in their initial meeting.
But the Spartans dramatically rallied. When Seven Lakes scored twice within a 31-second span late in the second half to take a 2-1 win, it was nothing new. It was only a matter of time.
The Spartans have a dynamic, diverse attack that leads the district in goals scored, averaging 3.5 per game, with four players among the district’s top 12 scorers.
“We’ve done it before,” said senior center midfielder Diego Lazo, who assisted on both of Seven Lakes’ goals. “We’re used to fighting and this team has heart. We’ve been down to Tompkins, to Katy, to Taylor. We’ve come back every time and we have trust on this team that we’re going to always fight back.”
Seven Lakes led the district in goals scored before last season was abruptly canceled because of the pandemic. The Spartans graduated their top three scorers, including stalwarts J.P. Dominguez and Tommy Murray.
“It was who’s going to step up and fill in the void, and we’ve had some guys fill in quite nicely,” coach Jimmy Krueger said. “And it’s not just one player we’re leaning on, it’s several players getting it done.”
Senior midfielder Vicente Garcia leads 19-6A with nine goals in district play. Senior forward Bryan Egba and senior midfielder Matt Stewart, who did not play against Taylor, have five each. Lazo, freshman midfielder/forward Noa Stasic and sophomore midfielder/forward Hunter Merritt, who scored the winner against Taylor, have three apiece.
“It’s amazing that we can score from pretty much anywhere and anyone,” said Egba, whose header off a free kick from Lazo with 13:40 left tied the game. “We have guys who can do some wonderful things with the ball. Everyone is involved, and that makes it special having that diversity from everywhere.”
Krueger figured his team’s games would be high scoring this year. Aside from a talented core in Garcia, Stewart and Lazo, he knew there was potential and skill in players like Egba, who has been more consistent this season, and Merritt, who was a JV ‘B’ player last year and is “killing it,” per his coach’s words.
Stasic and Aidan Morrison are freshmen playing beyond their years.
“We all have different strengths,” said Lazo, who leads the team with five assists in district play. “Some guys can take people on; some guys can shoot. Some guys can do both. We have speed. We have attack. We’re not afraid to shoot.”
And they’re not afraid to compete. The Spartans found themselves down against the Mustangs after a slow-footed first half, and a loss would have likely killed any and all district championship hopes.
But they did not give in, which was not an easy task against a Taylor program that has been rejuvenated under coach Julio Rivas.
“Over the past couple of years, Taylor has kind of re-found itself and they’re a contender,” Krueger said. “They’re doing good things. So, to come back against a side that plays physical, is high energy and at an irregular time in the afternoon opposed to the night just shows that there is grit and desire and passion there for us.”
Krueger’s Spartans are perennially among the best of the best in Region III soccer. He believes this year’s team can be the same, especially if junior defenders Keegan Sneedon and Ben Galloway continue to develop into able complements alongside Lazo and veteran senior Julian Arai on the backline.
Seven Lakes is 15-1-1 overall and 8-1-1 in district, with a plus-22 goal differential in 19-6A play. With a win Tuesday against Morton Ranch and a draw or win Friday against Cinco Ranch, Seven Lakes can take that desired step forward and win district.
“We wanted to win,” Lazo said. “We didn’t want to drop any points. We want that district championship. It’s really important. We want the district back to us.”