Brook Hill Guard eyes state soccer title

The Brook Hill Guard are one win away from securing the boys soccer program's first state championship. Team members are (front row, from left) Michael Nwosu, Thiago Kim, Chasca Ortega, Ben Nguyen, Mac Rose, Dalton Findlay, Matt Russell, Muna Nwosu; (Back row, from left) Jace Kuechle, Pasha Zapolsky, Jordan Wyatt, Abner Shin, Victor Loolo, Kyle Regester, Caleb Chadwell, Chidiebere Nechi, Showa Domia, Matthew Kimball, Assistant coach Trey Carlile, head coach David Collins. Not pictured: Assistant coach Jordan Roquemore.

One game to win it all and finally deliver Bullard Brook Hill boys soccer a state championship.

Brook Hill faces Houston The Village in the TAPPS Division II state championship game scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Waco ISD Stadium.

For the Guard (15-2) it is the final step on a journey that has seen the team avenge earlier season losses and knock off its two traditional nemeses. Brook Hill reached the final by edging area rival Grace Community 1-0 last week in the semifinals.

That leaves one more step.

Houston The Village enters with a 19-3 record and has outscored its playoff opponents 17-2.

"Houston The Village is very disciplined in their formation and keep their shape well and knock the ball around really well," Brook Hill coach David Collins said. "It is going to take a good effort on our part to keep playing the way we've been playing. I think if we'll play high pressure to them, that will bode well for us to be successful."

Amazingly, this is only Brook Hill's second appearance in the TAPPS state championship game despite reaching the Final Four in six of the past eight years. In 2010 the Guard were stopped in the final 3-1 by Carrollton Prince of Peace.

Last year, unbeaten Brook Hill was throttled 5-0 by eventual state champion Colleyville Covenant in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Lady Guard brought back a second straight state championship following an undefeated season.

With nearly his entire starting lineup returning for 2014-15, Collins (who is also the girls soccer coach) felt this would finally be the year for boys team to bring back the hardware.

"We gained valuable experience from last season," Collins said. "We were extremely young then and we are still young with five seniors, three of which are starters. Our kids have learned a lot."

Senior co-captain Kyle Regester and junior center back Michael Nwosu are the field generals for the Guard. A University of the Ozarks signee, Regester enters with five goals and five assists.

Many of those assists have gone to sophomore Michael Omini, who leads Brook Hill with 19 goals. Victor Loolo is second on the team with 11 goals. The two players have also combined for 15 assists.

"To almost go undefeated last season and then get wrecked by Colleyville was pretty heartbreaking," said Nwosu, who is a boarding student from Nigeria. "I think we have a little better team this year. We are going to push forward and strive to win this (last) game."

The push began midseason following back-to-back league losses against Grace and Dallas Christian. Those dropped Brook Hill to 6-2 at the time.

Weather then postponed Brook Hill's next game, meaning the Grace Cougars were the next foe on the schedule.

Collins said a formation change turned the tide and made the Guard more attacking-minded.

"We were kind of in a rut and not doing things well, but were still (having success) because the guys on our team are quality," Collins said. "We changed to a 4-3-3 and it enabled us to get a lot more numbers forward and use our athleticism to overtake some teams. We've been able to score a lot more goals and our defense is good enough to where taking that extra player out hasn't really hurt."

Brook Hill defeated Grace 2-1 and followed that up with a combined 17 goals in victories over Bishop Gorman and Dallas Shelton.

The Guard earned a bye through the first round of the playoffs and quickly dispatched Austin Regents 5-0 in their second-round game.

That moved them to the regional round and a rematch against Colleyville Covenant.

For Regester, it was a chance to right a wrong from 2014 and Brook Hill did not falter, defeating Colleyville Covenant 1-0.

"We wanted to face them bad this year," Regester said. "After beating them, we know now we can do anything."

That win set up a third meeting against Grace Community in the state semifinals. The game was scoreless until late in the second half when Loolo ran onto a through ball and touched it past the Grace keeper. He then he slotted it across to Omini, who did the rest.

So now a year later and Brook Hill is one win away from finishing the journey and winning the boys soccer program's first state championship.


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