JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — After three trips to the Western District tournament without earning a berth to the state tournament, Cobras coach Todd Gibson told his players the fourth time would be different.
And it was.
The Cobras, a Granite Country Youth Soccer Association 13-and-under Division ll select team, won the Western District tournament title May 4 to move on to the state tournament May 10-11. There, the Cobras finished fourth.
“We’d been within one game of making it to state for (the last) two years in a row,” Gibson said.
At first, it looked like this most recent trip to the Western District tournament would end just like the rest.
The Cobras trailed throughout the Western District tournament semifinal game but tied it before starting a second overtime. During a short two-minute break, the coach said he emphasized the importance of finding a way to win.
In the final 90 seconds, the Cobras scored two goals for the 3-2 victory.
Gibson said the Cobras learned plenty about the state’s top soccer teams while competing at the state event.
“Conditioning is a big thing,” he said. “You have to have 15 kids who are in good shape. That was definitely a part of it. In the select world of soccer, everyone is good. It really wasn’t who has the best team; it’s who shows up and who plays the best.”
One of the reasons for this year’s breakthrough is because of the squad’s closeness, the coach said, even though the team loses players each year.
“We do some things outside of soccer,” he said. “My team is diverse.”
Ultimately, he said, his players learned the difference between enjoying playing and remembering why they play the sport.
“You want kids to have fun,” Gibson said, “but you have to have them compete. That’s one of the hardest things.”