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Soccer: Eagles set sights high after historic 2017 campaign

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, December 20, 2017
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Giving It a Boot

GIVING IT A BOOT – Decatur’s Daniel Inguanzo kicks the ball up field. After making the third round of the playoffs last year, the Eagles will start a new season Jan. 5 at the Princeton Tournament. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After winning their first playoff game in school history last season, the Decatur boys soccer team is ready for more.

Decatur returns the District 3-4A Offensive MVP from 2017 in senior Daniel Inguanzo, but graduated the district co-MVP, Jamie Prado.

The Eagles will also be led by first-year 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.”

Decatur finished its 2016-2017 campaign 9-8-3 and 2-2-2 in district. The Eagles averaged 2.2 goals per game against 1.8 goals allowed, advancing to the regional quarterfinals. During its playoff run, Decatur dispatched Mineral Wells and Pampa before falling to San 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 crown last year with a 20-4-5 mark, but were never able to solve the Eagles, tying Decatur 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.”

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

“[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 quickly getting out in transition.

Decatur opens its season 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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