Decatur sets sights high after historic 2017 campaign

By Reece Waddell | Published Tuesday, December 19, 2017.
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After winning their first playoff game in school history last season, the Decatur boys soccer team is back and ready for more.

The Eagles return the 3-4A offensive MVP from 2016 in senior Daniel Inguanzo, but graduated the district co-MVP, Jamie Prado. Decatur will also be led by first-year head coach Christopher Benjamin.

“They had a great season last year, actually the deepest in the playoffs they’ve ever gone,” Benjamin said. “This year’s focus is to build off that. We’ve got a lot of good energy out here and a lot of great athletes.”

The Eagles finished their 2016-2017 campaign 9-8-3 and 2-2-2 in district. Decatur averaged 2.2 goals per game against 1.8 goals allowed, advancing to the regional quarterfinals. During its playoff run, the Eagles dispatched Mineral Wells and Pampa before falling to Sal Elizario 2-0.

San Elizario advanced to the regional finals, dropping a 2-1 match to the eventual 4A runner-up, Bridgeport. The Bulls won the 3-4A district crown last year with a 20-4-5 mark, but were never able to solve Decatur, tying the Eagles twice.

“[Playing Bridgeport] helps us see the kind of level we have to be at in the playoffs to make it all the way to state and hopefully win it,” said senior midfielder Sebastian Serrano. “Bridgeport has really good chemistry as a team. They know how to pass it and where to pass it.”

Decatur had six players named to the all-district team last season, with three earning first-team honors and three receiving second-team nods. The Eagles will get four of those players back this year, as Gumaro Inguanzo, Armando Benitez, Diego Garcia and Rodrigo Carrillo are all expected to return and contribute.

“[Having experience] is going to help a lot,” said senior midfielder Daniel Inguanzo. “A lot of these players grew up playing together. There’s a lot of chemistry between us and that’s good for the team.”

With plenty of returning players, Benjamin said his team should be deep offensively, and will look to capitalize on scoring chances by using their speed to catch teams out on counter-attacks.

Decatur opens its season Friday, Jan. 5 in the Princeton Tournament against Crandall. The Pirates beat the Eagles 2-1 last year in the same tournament. While Decatur made history last season by winning its first playoff game in program history, the Eagles are setting their sights much higher this year.

“I don’t think there is a ceiling this year,” Benjamin said. “I’ve set a goal for these guys that’s a reachable goal, and that’s go to state and win state. I think that’s something these guys can do.”

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