Lake Dallas coach Brandon Martin stood in front of his team before the season and didn’t say anything at first. There was nothing to be said that would send a message as strong as what Martin wanted to write on the whiteboard.
Martin turned, wrote a number and let the players see it.
The Falcons winced, as Martin’s demonstration triggered the heartbreak that was still too fresh on their minds eight months after the fact.
The number on the board was 55 — the amount of time left on the clock in the area round of the 2018 playoffs when Lucas Lovejoy scored a game-winning goal to eliminate Lake Dallas from the postseason.
“After losing that game we were disappointed, so we entered this year using that as motivation,” Martin said. “Taking that frustration, even though it happened awhile ago, and using it. Sometimes failure is a big motivation.”
It was a moment Lake Dallas (20-1-3) wanted to erase from its mind as quickly as possible, and the team knew the only way to do so was to win as many games as possible — to make a run forcing everyone, including the Falcons, forget about that second-round loss.
That’s exactly what the Falcons have done.
Last Friday night, Lake Dallas punched its ticket to the Class 5A Region I tournament by defeating Fort Worth Arlington Heights 3-2 after trailing 2-1 with less than 20 minutes left in regulation.
One year after recording their first playoff win, the Falcons are rewriting their record books each and every time they take the field.
“I just never feel like we’re done,” Martin said. “Even when we’re down, I feel like something is going to happen and we’re going to score. I don’t know — there’s something about this group that, until that final whistle blows and the score is not in our favor, we always have a chance. These kids aren’t going to quit.”
Lake Dallas has just two seniors on its roster in Carlos Zamora and Jayden Hendrix, making it a team not laced with experience.
“We really are family,” sophomore Anthony Patti said. “There’s never a reason to give up, no matter how much time’s on the clock. Our passion for the sport as a team is something else. We’ve got something special here at Lake Dallas.”
Lake Dallas finds itself two wins from a regional title. But the team’s sights are set higher, as a handful of players were yelling “Four more!” after last week’s win to emphasize the fact that the team is just four wins from a state championship.
The next obstacle on the journey to state is Wichita Falls (15-7-4) in the Class 5A region semifinals. The teams will meet at 10 a.m. Friday in Wichita Falls with a chance to advance to face El Paso Bel Air or Burleson at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“They’re hungry for more success,” Martin said. “They’ve had a taste of it and they like it, so we’re going to have a good time.”