Boys Soccer Playoff Picture: 11-5A/12-5A
After an extended time off for Spring Break, the boys soccer teams in Districts 11-5A and 12-5A will return to action on Tuesday for the final three-game stretch of the regular season.
Even at this late juncture of the season, there are plenty of questions in both districts that need to be answered during the next two weeks, particularly in the wide-open 11-5A race
These two districts will be matched up against one another when the Class 5A playoffs begin on Mar. 28-30.
Here is a look at each of the district races:
In the hunt: Rowlett (6-3), Garland (6-3), Sachse (6-4), South Garland (6-4), Naaman Forest (5-4)
Rowlett: The Eagles have won four of their last five matches, including big victories over Sachse and South Garland to vault into a tie for first place with Garland.
Rowlett appears to have the most favorable path to the 11-5A championship. They swept the season series with Sachse and split with both South Garland and Garland.
The Eagles have a huge match on Tuesday against Naaman Forest, but they close with matches they will be favored in against Lakeview (3-7) and North Garland (1-8).
Garland: The Owls have been a tough team to figure out. The same team that lost to Sachse, 4-0, in the first meeting, won the second meeting, 5-0. But Garland has been playing better of late and that could bode well for the final three matches.
The Owls will try to avenge an earlier loss to South Garland on Tuesday. Garland can then try to finish off a sweep of Naaman Forest on Friday before closing the regular season against last-place North Garland.
Sachse: The Mustangs rode a five-game winning streak to the top of the standings, but have since dropped consecutive games to fall back into the middle of a crowded pack.
With the time off during Spring Break and a bye on Tuesday, Sachse will have had two weeks off when it returns to the field for a pivotal match on Friday against South Garland. The Mustangs won the first meeting, 5-3, and a sweep of the season series would be huge for both the standings and potential tiebreakers.
Sachse, which was swept by Rowlett and split with Garland, also takes on Naaman Forest next Tuesday in a match that could have a playoff berth on the line.
South Garland: The Colonels got off to a red-hot start but have since cooled and now sit in a tie for third place after consecutive losses. The latter of those setbacks completed a season sweep at the hands of Lakeview, which are results that South Garland might be kicking itself over at season's end.
The Colonels have a pair of tough games on the horizon. They will take on Garland on Tuesday and then face Sachse on Friday. South Garland can put itself in very good position with wins in those two games. A split, or even two losses, and the Colonels might be forced to spend their season-ending bye rooting for different scenarios to happen.
Naaman Forest: The Rangers were swept by South Garland and lost the first meeting to both Sachse and South Garland. But Naaman Forest has a key win over Rowlett in its pocket and has the schedule down the stretch where it can make its own destiny.
It will not be an easy road, though, as the Rangers will play Rowlett, Garland and Sachse in their final three games, meaning if they end up as one of the 11-5A playoff teams, they will have earned that spot.
In: Rockwall (9-0-0-0, 27 points)
In the hunt: North Mesquite (6-2-1-0, 20), Longview (5-3-0-2, 17), Tyler Lee (5-5-0-0, 15), Horn (4-4-1-0, 14)
Rockwall: With three games left, the Yellow Jackets need only one more victory to assure themselves of the outright district championship.
That seems a likely result, as Rockwall has outscored its opponents 24-1 in maintaining a perfect 12-5A record. While the defense has been steady, the Yellow Jackets feature a variety of offensive weapons with five players having scored at least six goals, led by Micah Day (20 goals) and Clayton Rittershaus (11 goals, eight assists).
While Rockwall's status as top seed in the playoffs probably will not change, they can impact other teams' futures. The Yellow Jackets will play at third-place Longview on Tuesday and close out the season against Tyler Lee next Monday.
North Mesquite: Aside from a pair of close losses to Rockwall, the Stallions have taken care of business against the rest of the district, with six regulation wins and one shootout victory.
North Mesquite can clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday by defeating winless Rockwall-Heath, but there is still seeding to worry about.
If the Stallions handle business against the Hawks, they will wrap up the second seed with one win in their final two matches against either Tyler Lee on Friday or Horn next Monday.
Longview: The Lobos lead in the race for third place, but are in a somewhat precarious place. Longview has only two matches left, including one against undefeated Rockwall. That could mean that Friday's game at Horn could make or break the Lobos' playoff chances.
Tyler Lee: Like Longview, the Red Raiders are in a tough spot with only two matches left, including a season finale against Rockwall. Tyler Lee feels as if it should not even be in this position. They started the 12-5A season 4-0 but have since lost five of their last six, including a tough loss to Mesquite in their last game.
Aside from the game against Rockwall, the Red Raiders will also be the underdog on Friday when they take on North Mesquite.
Tyler Lee, which is clinging to a one-point lead over Horn for the fourth and final playoff berth, is almost certain to need points from at least one of its last two matches if it hopes to have a chance at one of the final postseason spots.
Horn: The Jaguars are the team currently sitting out of the playoff picture, but they might be in the best position among the final three in the postseason hunt. Unlike its nearest competitors in Longview and Tyler Lee, Horn has three chances to gain points and they get to avoid Rockwall.
The Jaguars can leapfrog the idle Red Raiders on Tuesday if they can duplicate their earlier win against Mesquite.
Horn will then face Longview on Friday before closing with North Mesquite next Monday.
The Jaguars won the first meeting with the Lobos in a shootout and they while they split the season series with Tyler Lee, they do have the advantage in point differential.
Follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson