By Anthony Mannino
Westlake Picayune Contributing Writer
This season was distinctly different for the Westlake boys soccer team compared to a year ago.
The Chaparrals were eliminated from making the playoffs, a year after going to the state semifinals, despite a valiant 2-2 comeback tie against the Lake Travis Cavaliers Tuesday.
“It’s a completely different team, a completely different year – a whole new set of starters,” said senior Matt Favaron. “I am just proud of everyone out here. Hopefully, next year they can build on this.”
The Chaparrals fell behind after two first-half goals from Dylan Tracy, but Westlake scored twice in the second half to tie the game. The Cavaliers won the shootout 4-3, but that result didn’t matter because the Chaparrals needed a win to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
“I hope (the young players) learn what it takes to be leaders,” coach John Campbell said. “There’s a lot of young kids on this team that are kind of born leaders. I think more than anything, they can get a sense of what it really takes to maintain an entire season.”
Westlake was beaten on the first goal due to hustle from Nathaniel Adamolekun. The Lake Travis forward won the ball in the Cavaliers’ half, and then held the ball for 50 yards while fighting off two Lake Travis defenders and making a run across field. He laid the ball to Tracy, who curled the ball over Jaime Alessio in the 6th minute.
The Chaparrals were then caught off guard on Lake Travis second goal in the 13th minute. Tracy scored legally off a quick free kick with Westlake’s wall and Alessio unprepared for the shot.
Lake Travis held the 2-0 lead at halftime, but Westlake fought back in the second half.
The Chaparrals were more confident with the ball and began to create more chances on the Lake Travis goal in the second 40 minutes. Those opportunities led to a goal in the 51st minute, albeit a lucky one.
Jacob Zodikoff threw the ball towards the Lake Travis net, and a Cavaliers defender headed the ball into his own net.
Momentum stayed on Westlake’s side after the goal, and in the 66th minute the Chaparrals were awarded a penalty. The referee ruled a Lake Travis defender blocked a Westlake header with his hand in the box.
Favaron converted the penalty to tie the game.
“I love the challenge of taking penalty kicks, and our team did a good job on earning it.” Favaron said.
The Chaparrals almost completed the comeback when Luc Scranton header hit the bar in the 75th minute.
The game ended 2-2 with Westlake chances of making the playoffs diminished.
“It is pretty much there,” senior Ben Hernandez said. “We just didn’t find it until the end of the season. Next year I will come back, and see how they do.”
Westlake plays their final game 7:45 p.m. Friday against Austin High.
“I have coached all these guys for four years, most of them all four year, some of them just a couple years, but they are a good group of kids,” said Campbell of his seniors. “I feel sorry for them and disappointed for them that we didn’t get to make it to the playoffs.”