By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
McKinney Boyd has become one of the hottest soccer destinations in the country.
In the girls program, the Lady Broncos have claimed state championships in 2008 and 2011, and are title contenders on a yearly basis regardless of how many seniors graduate the year before. While the boys program has not won the coveted state title, the Broncos have won back-to-back District 10-5A championships and advanced as far as the regional semifinals in 2011.
While this year’s District 10-5A is very different from the previous district which claimed Boyd and the entire Garland school district, the Broncos have received an incredible amount of preseason hype over the winter and has become a favorite amongst soccer experts to make a serious run at the program’s first UIL state title in 2013.
A big reason for the increased expectations is the decision of three senior starters who decided to return to the Broncos instead of playing with their selective academy teams this spring. Two years ago the U.S. Soccer Federation declared that it did not want players to miss practice time with the 80 developmental academy teams spread out over the country. High schools players now had to decide whether to play for their school or their academy teams, but no player could do both without serious penalties.
Senior defender Dillon Farrell decided to play for Boyd before his junior season instead of the Andromeda academy team. Farrell was the District 10-5A Defender of the Year and a First Team All-District member a season ago. Joining him in staying at Boyd are all-district seniors Raul Serrano and William Wiginton, as well as last year’s 10-5A Midfielder of the Year, Sewell Yost. Farrell, Serrano, and Yost all play for FC Dallas 95 Premier, a program that is separate from the FC Dallas academy team, one of the four academy teams in the Dallas area.
When asked about what kind of impact it has on the program to have those seniors choose to play for their school team, Boyd head coach Casey Osborn said it could keep kids in the blue and red of McKinney Boyd in years to come.
“I think so,” said Osborn. “Those guys kind of set the bar and you couldn’t ask for three better guys to help lead the program, (Farrell, Serrano, and Wiginton). I think their decision will hopefully benefit the program going forward and keep a lot of players in the program that are good enough to go to an academy.”
Osborn hopes that Wiginton, Serrano, and Farrell, who were all three named team captains, can help get the Broncos over the hump and make that state championship run in 2013. Last season Boyd’s playoff run ended in the regional quarterfinals in a heart-breaking 1-0 shootout loss versus Jesuit.
With a backline and midfield that is returning all its starters, as well as a lot of experience in the attack, the Broncos began the season nationally and state ranked in the Elite Soccer Report’s Top 50 rankings. The Broncos are currently No. 17 in the ESR Top 50.
When asked if whether this group understands the expectations that many have place upon them, Osborn said he believes his players have to not only play for themselves but the players who graduated before them.
“I think the past two years has really opened their eyes because we have had a lot of success,” said Osborn. “The expectation level has been raised, and the older guys have kind of passed that down to the younger kids really well. These guys are carrying a lot on their shoulders, not only playing for this group but players that have graduated.
The good thing about this group is a lot of them were with me as sophomores, and a lot of them who started for me as sophomores are starting for me now as seniors.”
The Broncos have already played two teams in the ESR National Top 50 rankings in No. 11 Jesuit and No. 16 Southlake Carroll. Boyd lost 4-0 versus Jesuit in the season opener and lost 1-0 on penalty kicks versus Southlake Carroll in the Richland Winter Blast Tournament championship match. The Broncos are currently 3-3-0 on the season.
“I thought it was a good test for the boys,” said Osborn about the loss versus Southlake Carroll. “The game was a tale of two halves. I thought they took it to us in the first half and we got the better of them in the second half. It was a good measuring stick for right now, but I feel like both teams need to improve quite a bit and it was good to see that we competed well with one of the best teams in the state.”
After the Richland tournament that saw the Broncos go 2-2, Osborn said the weekend was a mixed bag of results.
“It was a lot of up and down, kind of hit and miss soccer. I felt like at times we did things really well and other times we didn’t. What we are focused on now is not making the same mistakes. If there are going to be mistakes let them at least be new mistakes. I keep telling the kids to start building a foundation here and to not keep looking back and making the same mistakes.”
Osborn said that while he wants to come away with a win every time his players take the field, he wants to see improvement in every game more than anything else.
“In January we want to win, but the main goal is to get ready for district and a playoff run. We look for results but they know as well as I do that we are looking for improvement more than results. If we play well and the scoreboard doesn’t reflect that, as long as we are getting better every game that is more important to us right now,” said Osborn.
One of the big questions for the Broncos will be the goaltending situation, where sophomore Carson Reimer has taken the starting job in the early portion of the season. Reimer allowed two goals in the four tournament games a week ago, and while the .5 goals against average is where the Broncos want to be, Osborn believed two goals was too many to allow.
“Two goals are too many in four games, in my opinion,” said Osborn. “We are at a .5 goals against average right now that is our goal, but in theory we should not have allowed a goal in the tournament.”
While Osborn stated that his players have to keep focusing on becoming mentally stronger and learning to “roll with the punches,” he said that the story on this year’s team has several ways of coming to its conclusion.
“This team is geared up and has the tools to do something great. They could be remembered for doing something great or could be remembered for being really good but not getting the job done. The book is unwritten on where we go from here. Will each day’s page say we refused to lose or did we let the mental aspect overcome all the hard work we did?
“Hopefully we will be remembered for getting things done.”
Boyd will participate in the Governor’s Cup at Georgetown, beginning on Thursday. The Broncos open up against San Antonio Churchill on Thursday at 12 p.m.