“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a completely different team than the first time we faced them,” said Ty Koc, a senior left back. “With it being playoffs, everything’s on the line and so you’re gong to get the best from any team on any given day."
Seven Lakes knew that their second game against Clements would be different than the first.
The Spartans faced Clements in the first game of the season, coming out 10-0 winners. Seven Lakes was dominant throughout and easily earned the win.
But this was the playoffs, it had been nearly three months since the teams first meeting and both teams were in a different spot. And Clements was fighting for its seasons life.
Seven Lakes though, withstood everything the Rangers could throw at the , and the Spartans came out 1-0 winners to advance to the area round.
“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a completely different team than the first time we faced them,” said Ty Koc, a senior left back. “With it being playoffs, everything’s on the line and so you’re gong to get the best from any team on any given day. Just a huge amount of respect to Clements for battling. But I’m proud of the boys for how we persevered throughout the game and hopefully it’s the first round of many.”
Seven Lakes and Clements battled back and forth through the first half, as the Spartans dominated possession and the chances, but couldn’t find a goal.
“Sometimes players want to have a big moment, when things don’t go your way and you are used to scoring goals as a team, it can lead to people trying to force things,” said Seven Lakes head coach Jimmy Krueger. “When you go into heavy traffic, into heavy numbers, it creates pressure and we try not to have that. Our big talk at halftime was to relax, keep moving the ball around and make them chase the game. When a chance comes from that then we had to take it.”
The Spartans calmed down in the second half, working the ball out wide and creating chances and the breakthrough finally came in the 54th minute. Seven Lakes worked the ball around to the right side and Koc sprinted forward from his left back position into open space. A teammate hit Koc with a cross, and the senior slotted the ball into the back of the net to give Seven Lakes the lead.
“They knew that I like to get forward and were sticking with me out wide, but I realized there was a big gap in between their center back and their full back on my side,” Koc said. “I saw the open spot and ran to it and tried to exploit that space inside. I got the pass and it worked so, it was just an amazing feeling. Especially being a senior. I’ve played for this team for four years so I know what it means to wear this badge everyday. To get the goal to score the goal that kept the season alive and kept my senior season alive, it meant everything to me. I’m really proud of that.’
The Spartans had chances to add a second, but couldn’t find the back of the net the rest of the way as Clements kept as many players behind the ball as they could and then countered when given the opportunity.
But the test will also help the Spartans through the rest of the playoffs.
“It helps a lot,” Koc said. “It gives us a battle early, usually first rounds aren’t the toughest, but its good coming out and getting a teams best and knowing early on that no one is going to roll over and let us beat them. I’m glad we went up a team that battled to the end like that and I think it will help us out in the end.”
Seven Lakes will play the winner of Bellaire and Cy-Ridge 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Legacy Stadium.
“Our back line really stepped up and took care of business today, and that’s huge for us going forward,” Krueger said. “When your offense is struggling to find a goal, that’s when it really pays off. We’ve been blessed to be really successful offensively most of this year and it’s a big moment for them when the goals aren’t coming but the defense steps up at the right time. Now we just have to keep that going.”
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