Soccer: Motivated Crosby Cougars look to the playoffs
The Crosby Cougars needed to win their final game of the regular season to make the playoffs.
Crosby beat Splendora 4-1 in that game.
“We practiced a lot, and we practiced hard for each other, so it felt really good to get that result,” said senior Braden Berthelot.
The Cougars won their first five district games and tied their next two, part of a 14-game unbeaten streak going back to the beginning of the season.
Crosby then lost its next three games, to Humble, Caney Creek and Kingwood Park, the other three playoff teams from the district.
“It lets you know that you’re not invincible, and you always have to be on your toes,” said Berthelot. “After that, we practiced harder than ever.”
“There was a lot of team building during those practices,” added Bernardo Hernandez. “We had team talks and worked on how to really focus on not coming apart. It’s easy to start blaming each other, but were really focused on being a team and getting through this together.”
A 2-0 win over Dayton ended the losing streak. That was followed by a 2-2 tie against Humble and then the finale against Splendora.
Crosby’s leading scorer, Steven Godinez, went down with a knee injury in the Humble game and won’t be able to play in any of the playoff games.
Coach Nathan Helburg said that was a significant blow to the team, but people have stepped up to fill that role.
Helburg said that he does not particularly like having nine days between the last regular season game and the first playoff game, especially having just had 10 days between games due to Spring Break. So he scheduled a friendly warm-up match against Liberty in the middle of that break
The Cougars are returning to the playoffs for the second consecutive year and three of the last four years.
Both of the two previous times, they did not advance past the first round of the playoffs.
This year’s team feels that they have that chip on their shoulder.
Crosby is the four seed out of District 21-5A, but the team doesn’t feel like underdogs.
They actually have the same number of points as their first opponent, Lumberton.
Helburg said that, while the game plan for a playoff game is the same as the regular season, he tries to give the playoffs a more special feel for the players to appreciate their accomplishment and enjoy the experience.
“It’s just a blessing to be able to play in the playoff, not every team has the ability to do so,” Hernandez said, echoing that sentiment.
Senior Antonio Villafuerte said it means a lot when the fans come out to support the team,
“Sometimes soccer doesn’t get the bright lights that football does” Helburg said. “But these guys have been working hard all year long. Plus, it’s a senior heavy team, so it’s a good chance to see these guys one more time before they graduate.”
Most of the team grew up in Crosby. Most of the players have known each other since elementary school.
Helburg said that while the team does obviously play for wins, that’s not its sole focus. It also plays for the brotherhood and camaraderie.
Crosby will play District 22-5A champion Lumberton on March 29 at “Butch” Thomas Stadium in Beaumont in the Bi-District round.