When word got out that the Mustang boys soccer team was ranked third in the nation in this year’s initial United Soccer Coaches high school poll, head coach Jared Homer kept it a secret from his squad.
“We didn’t even tell the guys,” admitted Homer of the mid-March ranking. “We didn’t say anything. We didn’t want them to get a big head. It was early in the season so we said, let’s just continue what we’re doing.”
Two weeks later, when the next poll came out, the Broncos had inched up to the number two spot. By then, it was impossible to keep it from the team.
“It’s obviously great to be recognized,” said Homer, who’s in his 10th season at Mustang. “It’s been a lot of hard work for this group and the last four or five groups that have come through to set the bar higher every year.”
The Broncos have won their first eight matches this season, including winning the Southern Tulsa Classic last month in impressive fashion. They also recorded a dominating 4-1 win last week on Cox’s YurView Channel 3 against Southmoore.
“It’s been really good,” commented Homer on the Broncos’ play so far this season. “I’ve got 15 seniors, nine of which are on varsity and eight of them start, so it’s an older group that has played together for a long time. They trust each other on the field and off the field. They hang out together. It’s just a really great group of kids.”
Leading the way for the Broncos has been electric senior forward Isaias Silva, who recently signed to play collegiately at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City.
“Isaias just brings another dynamic to our team,” stated senior captain Parker Arnold. “He’s so creative on and off the ball. He gives us space and allows for our other strikers to make runs. And he scores a lot.”
“They’ve done a great job,” said Homer of his senior center backs. “They’re vocal. They’re students of the game. They’re always looking to improve and grow. Those guys have really been a huge plus for us this year.”
The national recognition has been great for the Broncos, but it also brings out the best in their opponents.
“It’s great, but the target on your back continues to grow,” admitted Homer. “You’re not sneaking up on anybody. You’re going to get everybody’s best shot. We’ve been in some battles the past two weeks. They’re coming at us. We’ve responded to those challenges so far.”
“Ya, we’ve worked for it, but we try to make sure we don’t ever get too confident,” added Arnold. “People are trying to beat us. We can’t let that affect how we play and it can’t go to our heads.”
Arnold and the rest of the seniors are making sure the Broncos keep their focus and concentrate on their main goal: winning a state championship.
“Mainly we just have to make sure we come into games focused, because if we start off right, then we can beat almost anyone,” remarked Arnold. “We just have to make sure our heads are in the game from the start.”
“Each game takes on a life of its own,” added Homer. “We just have to continue to come out every game and play like it’s Senior Night, take each game one at a time and be focused. I think we’re hitting our stride. We just need to continue that trend of playing well and improving each game.”