In the 16 games Branson and Nixa boys’ soccer had played against each other – including three postseason matchups – the Nixa Eagles were always victorious – until Tuesday night.
The Branson Pirates headed home from Ozark with a 2-1 win in the Class 4 District 11 tournament.
Tears of happiness filled the eyes of players after a late-game goal put them back on top for the win. But those in the eyes of head coach David Brenner stood out the most.
Brenner began his high school coaching career at Nixa, and spent eight seasons as an assistant with the soccer team. Since coming to Branson in 2008, he’d never had a team bring home a win against his former team. He credits his team, and the seniors, for breaking the 16-game losing streak against the Eagles.
“These seniors are such an amazing group of young men,” Brenner said. “They wanted this, and they went out there and got it.”
The Pirates had a 1-0 lead as they left the first half.
“We knew from the regular season game with them that we could move the ball and create opportunities,” Brenner said. “They’re a great defensive team, but we were there.
We wanted to put the pressure on them early.”
Coming back from the half, the Pirates needed to exhibit great defense of their own. Despite great efforts on the Pirates’ part, the Eagles managed to get one past them and tie up the game with just over 22 minutes left to play.
“We didn’t expect them to tie it up,” Brenner said. “But we didn’t expect it to be an easy win, we knew we were going to have to score again to win.”
As the minutes dwindled, it appeared the game would have to be finished in overtime. With just under two minutes left in regulation time, the Pirates battled their way back up the field.
Cristofer Abarca said the ball was placed perfectly.
“It just came down to me,” Abarca said. “I love the pressure, I can handle it.”
With just a minute and 53 seconds remaining in regulation time, Abarca took his shot and scored a goal that made history for Branson Soccer. The 2-1 win gave Branson a 19-5 record for the season. It is the best record the team has had in its 12 years of playing.