Berkner enters soccer playoffs as area favorite

With the rich talent pool of boys soccer in the area traditionally on teams like Southlake Carroll, Coppell and the Plano schools, who would have thought District 9-5A would have two of the best teams, not only the area but in the country?

As expected, one team is 2010 5A state champion Dallas Jesuit, which enters the 5A playoffs as the ESPNHS Fab 50 No. 9 team in the nation with an 18-2 regular season record.

The other took many by surprise.

Richardson Berkner won the District 9-5A title and finished the regular season 18-1 and is ranked No. 3 in the nation, the highest of any Texas team.

“I didn’t see that they had that from the JV team last year,” Jesuit coach Charles DeLong said. "They kind of came out of nowhere.”

It’s Berkner’s first trip to the playoffs in six years with coach Juan Beracochea at the helm.

Knocking off defending 5A state champion Southlake Carroll in the fourth game of the season gave Berkner the confidence to claim that playoff berth and garner national attention during the journey.

Credit a large portion of the success to senior Jack Wolf, who leads Berkner in all-around scoring with 25 goals and six assists. His effort stuck out to DeLong and has been adopted by the rest of his teammates. Wolf, a National Honor Society member and Division I prospect, single-handedly won Berkner’s second game against Jesuit, scoring both of his team’s goals in the 2-0 win.

“He’s very athletic. Very determined and he’s got decent skills,” DeLong said. “He plays on a team that gives him appropriate service. It’s hard to score that many goals unless you have players around you that can pass you the ball at the right time and the right place and you can’t score that many goals unless you have something going for you as an individual. He’s a handful.”

Going from zero to the top could easily go to the heads of most high school players, but that’s not the nature of this blue-collar squad which enters the postseason as even-keeled as possible, Beracochea said.

“We have never been in this position, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Beracochea said. “We’re a very humble team.”

The 5A girls bracket has seven UIL teams in the top 16, most of which will face each other in the first three rounds. Two out of the seven are guaranteed to see their season come to an abrupt halt after the second round.

The most intriguing of these future pairings is the potential second-round match between No. 6 Flower Mound and No. 5 Mansfield in the area round. The winner of that area Super Bowl could then face No. 7 Plano West before reaching the regional tournament.

Saved from that mess is No. 2 McKinney Boyd, which returns to the postseason trying to repeat as 5A state champions.