“It was rough, going through that and losing to probably our biggest rival,” said Seven Lakes senior Ty Koc. “But we all came together in that room and we decided we wanted to win state. That was the goal from the beginning."
The day after Seven Lakes lost to Tompkins last year in the regional quarterfinals, the Spartans returners gathered at the high school and had a conversation.
The conversation wasn’t about remising on the season, on what could have been or placing blame on one another, it was about looking forward.
At the end of that conversation, everyone in the room knew what they wanted to achieve in the upcoming year, there was only one goal.
The Spartans are just two games away from that point now, as they enter the Class 6A state tournament following a 3-2 win over Cy-Creek in the regional final round of the playoffs. But this is where the Spartans expected to be, and it doesn’t surprise any of them.
“It was rough, going through that and losing to probably our biggest rival,” said Seven Lakes senior Ty Koc. “But we all came together in that room and we decided we wanted to win state. That was the goal from the beginning, the fact that we’ve gotten here, that we have pushed the way we have, it just shows the heart of this team.”
This Spartans team has showed grit and determination the whole way to get to this point, surviving one of the toughest districts the state has to offer in District 19-6A and winning their third straight district title before going through a gauntlet in the playoffs.
That gauntlet included a tough opening test from Fort Bend Clements a come from behind effort against Ridge Point, a third matchup against the only team that had managed to beat the Spartans in Taylor and the Cy-Creek game that went into overtime.
Through it all, the Spartans have never lost confidence, and that won’t change, no matter the opponent they face.
“This is a team that has thrived when we face adversity,” said senior midfielder Javier Rivas. “We’ve done it all season, whether we fall behind, or are dealing with injuries, or have a quick back to back. It doesn’t matter. We know we can go out and beat anyone and that we can overcome whatever is put in front of us.”
The biggest test yet will come for Seven Lakes at 7:30 p.m. Friday, when the Spartans (20-1-3) play Plano (19-4-3) in the Class 6A state semifinals at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown.
Plano has already had its fill of drama in the playoffs as well, and have been tested and responded like Seven Lakes has. Twice the Wildcats have been brought to penalties while their regional final was taken into overtime as well. Plano finished first in District 6-6A and will have all the confidence that Seven Lakes does, but the Spartans will be prepared, and have something that many teams lack, depth.
“What we preach, is that we are not a one man team,” said Seven Lakes head coach Jimmy Krueger. “It’s tough for any player, especially a teenager, to be on every single game. So that’s the best thing with this team. When someone’s struggling, the next man up takes over. Those teams are the ones built for success and aren’t just flashes in the pan.”
The Spartans are happy to be here, it’s the first time in school history they have been this far. But for them, it’s not mission accomplished. Not until they hold a championship trophy on Saturday.
“We have to bring the right mindset,” Rivas said. “We have to know that we have what it takes to win this weekend. I know that I am sure of that, and I’ll make sure every person on the team knows it. We have what it takes. I don’t care that it’s our first time in. We’re going to go show everyone what Region III is about and show them that Seven Lakes is one of the best teams in the state.”
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