Salado looks to continue historic playoff run
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - For the first time ever, the Salado boys soccer team will be playing in the regional semifinals.
The Eagles have been building a winning program step-by-step during the last six years under head coach Jared Cruddas, making it three rounds deep in 2021, and finally breaking through the the regional tournament this season.
The team has an impressive senior group, that says the third-round loss a year ago helped fuel the impressive season the team put together this year.
Team Captain Alex Pierce tells me, “I remember, I sat on that field after that game for about 20 minutes and no one talked. We just thought about it. It was tragic, and, I don’t want it to happen again.”
You can see the hunger when you watch this team practice, relentlessly pushing each other, not even stopping when the whistle blows.
Pierce explains, “If the ball goes out of bounds at practice, we are running on the track to try to get it. Running on concrete, knocking each other over. It does not matter.”
Salado hangs it hat on its physicality from top to bottom. In fact, as soon as the younger kids bought-in to the aggression, the leaders on this team knew they had a team that could do something special.
“I knew when someone knocked me off my feet at practice. I had a sophomore come in and swipe me. We are mean at practice. Noone is safe. You have to watch your back everywhere. That’s how I knew, when I realized I wasn’t safe,” says Pierce.
Coach Cruddas adds, “You have ten or eleven guys who aren’t in the starting lineup that are trying to make the starting lineup, so, you get a higher level of play.”
Salado also plays with an aggressive mindset, attacking the goal early and often.
“You have 80 minutes to play a game and you have to score more than your opponent. Let’s not waste time moving the ball around, let’s go straight to the objective,” says Cruddas.
Salado will play an undefeated East Chambers team this Friday, but the Eagles are keeping the strategy simple, and focusing on just being themselves.
Team Captain Cooper Chambliss explains, “You have to play your game. If you try to change it up too much it is going to mess up your game and your mojo. It won’t work out as well for you.”
Fellow captain Cooper Sanders adds, “We just want to play and we want to win, and that is really about it. We are just playing how we do and it is working.”
The regional semifinal matchup is set for this Friday, April 8th, at 5 PM in Katy, TX’s Legacy Stadium.
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