By MIKE IBANEZ
Lewisville High School boys soccer coach Brandon McCallum isn’t certain about how many years it’s been since the Farmers qualified for the playoffs. But he’s pretty sure about how many district wins it will take to get there this year.
The magic number is eight. And considering LHS stood at 6-3-1 in District 5-6A entering Friday night’s home match against Trophy Club Byron Nelson (results were too late for press time), the Farmers may be breaking a postseason drought that extends anywhere from 18-20 years, depending on who you ask.
“At the beginning of the year, I charted out the district season and came to the conclusion that we needed to win eight games to make the playoffs,” said McCallum, who is in his seventh season as the LHS coach. “Obviously the playoffs is everyone’s goal, but this team is focused on the number eight. Hopefully, if we reach that goal the rest will fall in place.”
The road to eight wasn’t looking smooth when LHS dropped its first two district matches to heavyweights Flower Mound Marcus (2-0) and Southlake Carroll (2-1). But the Farmers won four of their next five to finish the first half of 5-6A play on pace to reach their goal.
The most impactful of the those wins was a 1-0 victory over Flower Mound, which propelled LHS into fourth place. They opened the second half of district play with wins over Euless Trinity (3-0) and Marcus (2-1) and a 1-1 tie with Carroll, placing them in a second-place tie with Marcus entering Friday’s night’s match.
Hebron leads 5-6A with an 8-1 record.
“The issue we have now is that the teams in front of us are teams we need to take care of business with,” McCallum said of Nelson and LD Bell, Tuesday night’s opponent. “Those teams are having down years but are very talented and extremely dangerous.”
McCallum credits his defense for much of his team’s success. LHS gives up fewer than one goal per game on average, despite returning only one experienced defender from last year’s team and starting a goalie who hasn’t played the position since middle school.
Jonathan Lara is joined by defensive newcomers Carlos Galvan and Brandon Barrows. Galvan is in his third year on the LHS varsity, but his first as a defender. Barrows, who recently signed a national letter of intent with Concordia College in Austin, is in his first year as a varsity player.
The trio are the last line of defense in front of goalkeeper Angel Santana, who took over the position during the non-district portion of the season and hasn’t relinquished it.
Prior to donning the keeper’s equipment, Santana played a variety of field positions. Since he had some limited experience in goal and McCallum prefers to build his offensive attack from the back, the gamble was made to make a change at the very visible positions. It has paid off.
“Angel is very good with his feet so he plays into what we want to do in playing back to our keeper,” McCallum said. “He’s very technical and gifted on the ball which creates a lot of opportunities for us.”
While Santana and his defenders are frustrating opponents on the defensive end, Peter Hmung has been the largest beneficiary of their play on the offense. The Harding College commit has scored 10 goals and assisted in two others in 17 matches.
The Farmers are succeeding while lacking a large number of Classic League Division 1 select players. Hmung and right back Julio Gomez are the only two players on the roster with Division 1 experience and Gomez’s FC Dallas West squad is comprised of eight Carroll players.
“We have kids on our team that are good enough to play Classic 1, but our guys tend to play on more independent teams for a variety of reasons,” McCallum said. “Peter and Julio are both very talented, quick and read the game well.”
Farmers girls soccer remains among area’s ranked teams
After a 3-0 start in district play, including impactful wins over Flower Mound and Marcus, the LHS girls team dropped five of its last seven matches going into Friday night’s action at Nelson.
LHS opened the season 10-1, enough to get the attention of staffers at The Dallas Morning News, who placed the Lady Farmers seventh in their initial in-season poll of area 6A teams. They remained in the most recent poll, but are barely hanging on in 10th.