The Jesuit soccer program has always been considered one of the top in the state, and often one of the top in the country, and this year was no different. Coach Charlie DeLong led Jesuit’s soccer team to another strong season and through a deep playoff run. The Rangers finished the regular season 16-5-2. This impressive record was good enough for a first place tie in district with Lake Highlands after going 5-0-1 in their last six games, both teams finishing with 18 points total on the season.
Jesuit entered the playoffs as the number two seed from district 9-5A as they faced the district 10-5A three seed, the Allen Eagles. Playing in Allen’s daunting 18,000 seat stadium, the game was scoreless until Brandon Ozier ’14 gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead early in the second half. The Rangers defense nearly held the Eagles off the rest of the way, but Allen managed a goal off a header with less than a minute remaining in the half, sending it to overtime. After a scoreless overtime the game came down to penalty kicks, where goalie Matt Tulli ’13 had two tremendous saves, setting Bubba Chavez ’13 up for the game winning goal.
In the second round the Rangers faced their toughest opponent of the season, the Rockwall Yellowjackets, who finished first in district 12-5A after posting a dominant 24-4-0 record on the season. Not seeing themselves as underdogs, the Rangers came out ready to play as Matt Mills ’13 scored in the first 5 minutes, heading in a beautiful cross pass from Ozier. The Rangers headed into halftime with a 1-0 lead after playing outstanding defense led by goalie JD Feist ’13. In the second half Tulli stepped into the goal and carried on the defensive performance, as the Rangers shutout Rockwall the rest of the way, winning 2-0 as Chris Mathis ’13 scored one more in the second half. As the Rockwall players wept on the ground, the Rangers moved on more confident than ever.
In the round of 32, the Rangers faced the McKinney Boyd Broncos (18-5-2), the first place team out of district 10-5A. Jesuit headed into half time with a 1-0 lead off a Mathis goal; however, the Rangers failed to find the net again and Boyd tied it up with a second-half header that bounced off a Jesuit defender. Once again, the overtime period was scoreless and for the second time in three games, the Rangers headed to a shootout. The shootout period seemed to never end as each team could not miss, but unfortunately, Boyd eventually got the best of the Rangers, taking a 9-8 shootout victory.
While the season may have ended disappointingly, it truly proved to be a success. This Jesuit soccer team was unique and talented, as senior Ryan Su explains, “This team had to rely on everyone. Our backline, for example, had only one returning senior so we had to count on juniors and sophomores and everyone filled different spots when they needed too. Most of our games we were able to get everyone involved, which makes us different than any other Jesuit team I’ve played on.”
It was a great season for the Rangers and we can expect the soccer program to continue its dominance for years to come.