High school soccer: Westmoore relying on balanced attack, stifling defense entering playoffs
Westmoore soccer coach Robert Williams hasn’t changed his coaching philosophy in his 12 years leading the Jaguars.
As the Class 6A-5A girls soccer playoffs get fully underway Tuesday — some games were moved to Monday because of the possibility of severe weather — Westmoore hosts rival Moore. In a year the Jaguars captured a District 6A-1 title and a conference championship, they are striving for more than a first-round exit. Williams said that will come from sticking to their game plan.
“We want to keep the ball, keep it moving and find avenues to attack,” Williams said. “We don’t get a lot of shots. We just try to get the best shot and finish those opportunities.”
Three years ago, Westmoore (13-1 overall, 7-0 District 6A-1) missed the playoffs with a losing record. Many starters on that team were freshmen, which Williams said was pivotal in growing this year's team.
The following season, the Jaguars managed an 8-8 record but fell 1-0 against Broken Arrow in the first round of the playoffs. It was another young team with sophomores and freshmen leading the way.
Then came last season. Westmoore went 12-4 and finished second in its district but fell to rival Southmoore in the first round of the playoffs. Williams knew his team didn’t perform stellar, but he knew they left too much to chance.
“You can’t take a game off,” Williams said. “If you give up one (goal), you never know. We don’t want what happened against Southmoore last year to happen again.”
Westmoore has focused on defensive growth, and it paid off. The Jaguars have allowed only six goals this season and only once have they allowed an opponent to net more than one shot.
Williams hired former St. Gregory’s men’s coach Drew Rundell in the offseason, and Williams credits him for the defensive turnaround.
Twelve players have netted goals with junior Celeste Ceballos leading the team with eight. An additional 10 have tallied assists, while junior goalkeeper Mya Szymanski has notched nine shutouts, including six straight heading into Tuesday’s matchup.
With the combination of stifling defense and balanced, efficient offense, Williams said Westmoore is primed for a deep postseason run. Up first, it must battle crosstown foe Moore, which it defeated 1-0 on March 14.
“It’s a rivalry,” Williams said. “Everybody gets up for it. These kids know each other. It’s not a game that’s hard to get up to.”