"Those guys can do remarkable things, we’ve done that this season but it’s not the end of it. I just want those guys to know that even though I won’t be on the team next year, I will always be their teammate and brother. I’ll always be a Seven Lakes Spartan.”
GEORGETOWN — Seven Lakes set all kind of school records this season.
The Spartans won a third straight district title, the first time the school had achieved such a feat. They got past the regional semifinal, a first for the program. Then they won in the regional final and clinched a state tournament berth for the first time in school history.
“This whole season was an amazing feeling,” said senior left back Ty Koc. “I’ve been with this program for four years and this is by far just the most connected I’ve ever felt to a team. Being a part of Seven Lakes for so long, it just grows on you and I love all of these guys so much.”
But all seasons have to come to an end, and for the Spartans, that end came Friday, as they fell 3-2 to Plano in the state semifinals at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown.
Seven Lakes came out early and dominated possession in the first half, but the Wildcats got three goals in 22 minutes during the second half to pull away and end the Spartans season.
“In that span of 20 minutes, we couldn’t string two or three passes together,” said Seven Lakes head coach Jimmy Krueger. “There was constant pressure on the back line, when you face a team like this that likes to play long balls into the box, it sets yourself for failure when you can’t pressure them like you should.”
Seven Lakes came out with a promising start, holding possession and trying to create chances early, but Plano worked itself back into things, working hard on the counter attack and breaking down a Seven Lakes defense that likes to press high up the field.
The Spartans got a couple of good chances midway through the first half, and finally found the breakthrough in the 21st minute, when Abdullah Soliman got brought down in the box for a penalty, which Aidan Morrison stepped up to calmly convert.
“We played so well in the first half,” Krueger said. “We controlled possession for most of it and we were making them chase the game.”
Plano stepped up the pressure from there, as the Wildcats attempted to get back into the game. But Seven Lakes was able to respond and create chances of its own, neither team however converted as they went into the half with Seven Lakes holding a 1-0 lead.
“It’s unfortunate the way this ended tonight,” Koc said. “We had a bigger and better goal in mind. But at the end of the day, you have to look back at what we did this season and be happy. There was so much joy, we broke history and did things that this program has never done. We went into uncharted territory and I couldn’t be more proud of my boys.”
Things continued the same way through the start of the second half, as both teams went back and forth but struggled to create any kind of chances. But Plano continued to work themselves back into it and got the equalizer in the 60th minute, when Steven Wood sent in a cross from 35 yards out that Nolan Giles headed into the net.
Seven Lakes woke back up and as soon as the goal was scored pressed forward, trying to go back in front, but Plano kept countering and got their second in the 69th minute as Giles again scored, this time off a pass from Michael Rogers. And in the 77th minute, Rogers completed his hattrick off a rebound to make it a two goal lead for the Wildcats.
Seven Lakes tried to get back into things, throwing numbers forward, but the Plano defense, and Aidan Morrison trimmed the lead to one with two minutes remaining, but the Spartans couldn’t find the equalizer before the game came to an end.
“I’m so proud of the way they fought back to get into it, it’s the resolve and the resilience that these guys have had all year,” Krueger said. “All it takes is a moment, and when you have a guy like Aidan Morrison, I promise you they hold their breath every time he gets a free kick. He’s so selfless the way he played on the backline through these playoffs and that goal just shows what a truly special player he is.”
The Spartans will graduate 12 seniors this year and they are part of a group that won three straight district championships. This was the most special season those seniors have had, but they also want it to be a stepping stone and they want bigger things for the underclassman.
After the game, the group circled for a final time, with Koc and Javi Rivas imploring the younger players to push to get further next year. It’s the Spartan way, and they know this is only building to even better things.
“It starts from the second they get back to school on Tuesday,” Koc said. “It doesn’t start next August, or next season. It starts as soon as possible. Those guys can do remarkable things, we’ve done that this season but it’s not the end of it. I just want those guys to know that even though I won’t be on the team next year, I will always be their teammate and brother. I’ll always be a Seven Lakes Spartan.”
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