Brandon Lawless knew his team had potential, he just didn’t know if they would have the chance to reach it.
Lawless is the coach of The Southlake Cosmos 99 Blue soccer team and has had to deal with adversity and injuries for an entire season.
“At the beginning of the year, we played with the top teams in the state,” Lawless said. “Played with the best teams in North Texas. And we were struggling. We were losing games. Having a hard time. We had massive injuries to players.”
Yet, in winning the girls U13 Oklahoma President’s Cup championship, he may have seen exactly what they are made of.
“I’ve been coaching for a while,” Lawless said. “They played with heart. This is one of those tournaments where there are a lot of competitive teams that don’t enter just because they are not going to have success. They played with so much emotion and so much heart. They just wouldn’t die. It was a really emotional performance.”
Cosmo 99 looks to keep the momentum going in the Region III Presidents Cup in Greesnboru, N.C. Thursday through Sunday. It’s big opportunity for the team and the entire South Lakes Soccer Club.
“South Lakes has never had a team advance to finals at Regionals,” Lawless said. “I just want to see them play and have that emotion that they had in the last game. Just that belief you can do it and that confidence.”
Cosmo 99 new found confidence was born from the incredible run it made through the state championship last month. In its first three games, they didn’t allow a single goal to be scored upon them.
“We were fortunate that we were a good enough team and everybody recognized it and gave us the No. 1 seed,” Lawless said. “We had a little bit easier road to the semifinals. We completely dominated the first three games, but we couldn’t score. We had 30 shots on goal. But the ball just won’t go in the back of the net.”
Yet, several times Cosmo 99 were on the brink of being eliminated. They were 1-0-1 entering the third game of the tourney and in a must win situation.
“We have our backs against the wall,” Lawless said. “If we don’t win the game, we don’t move on. We found a way to score a goal and win the game 1-0. We are able to play well enough to push through to the second weekend.”
Cosmo defeated Tulsa Blitz 99 1-0 in the semifinals in Broken Arrow to make it to the championship match. They faced Oklahoma Football OFC 99 in the toughest game they have played all year.
OFC scored an early goal and Cosmo played from behind the rest of the night.
“They are a good team,” Lawless said. “Not like the teams we played in first round. It really looked pretty grim. I changed the formation around and said just go attack hoping we can score a goal. But it looks like we’re going to lose 1-0.”
However, in the final minute, a Cosmo player was brought down illegally by the OFC, which earned them a free kick.
“I was thinking about having somebody else take it,” Lawless said. “But I just bit my tongue and she just belted it to tie the game 1-1. Game goes into overtime. We had a girl come through and put us up 2-1 and held onto win.”
Cosmo 99 now prepares to take on the rest of the country in the Region III Presidents Cup. Tournament starts Friday with one game and then two more on Saturday. The pool winner advances to the semifinals Sunday.
“I think that the momentum shifted in that final game,” Lawless said. “They got that taste and understand of what you have to do to win a game. And how much you have to put in to win it. I think they just learned how to win again. I think they will carry some of that emotion and momentum into these games and hopefully we will get some results.
“The year was an adversity year. But everything is coming together at the right time.”