Dominating the Game


“It was so surreal, I still can’t believe it. That was the goal since day one, of this year, to win state, and we did it.”

After a long, hard fought season, the men’s varsity soccer team completed what proved to be one of the most dominant regular season and playoff stretches in recent memory, becoming the first KatyISD school to ever win a state championship in men’s soccer. Sporting a 28-1-1 record, the Spartans defeated Dripping Springs 2-1 in the 2023 UIL 6A Texas Boys Soccer State Championship. 

“It was amazing. It was unforgettable. Winning it with the group of guys we had on our team was amazing,” senior Hunter Merritt said. “The whole season we talked about winning state, going to state, and we knew we had that goal in the back of our mind, and that kept us going.”

The Spartans played with a vengeance all year. The previous season, they lost in the state semifinals, narrowly missing out on a championship.

“I think last year making it all the way to the state semifinals and seeing the seniors leave without completing the goal, it just added a chip on our shoulder,” senior Gabriel Gonzalez said. “[We wanted] to do it for them this year.”

Determined not to meet the same fate, the team practiced tirelessly and resultantly built up an unbeatable combination of talent and team chemistry. 

“I’ve spent a long time with my teammates. We’ve played together for the three years I’ve been here, and now, we’re a family,” junior Ben Aviles Vera said. “We’re not teammates. We’re a whole family.”

The offense and defense as a whole were brilliant all playoffs, meshing seamlessly to create a nightmare for all opponents in the playoffs. It was the same story in the state championship, where Dripping Springs struggled to make any sort of progress downfield the entire first half. 

“We knew they had a good striker, but we knew if we played our game and kept the ball, we’d prevent any chance of them scoring,” Gonzalez said. “Credit to them, it was a good free kick, but we did our job pretty well.”

The first half ended 0-0, as neither team could seem to find the net. Unwavering, the Spartans returned from the locker room as energized and confident as ever. 

“We didn’t change anything because we were dominating the game, but our coach just said be patient, [a goal] is going to come. It ended up coming, and then we went and got another one,” Merritt said.

Before long, Merritt broke the tie with a goal, and then tacked on another a few minutes afterward. As a result of his heroics, Merritt was named the MVP of the State Championship.

“I’m not known for scoring goals, I normally have more assists, so whenever I got the goal, I knew we just had to finish the deal,” Merritt said. “We’d been dominating the game but couldn’t find the back of the net. Once I scored that first goal I knew another one was going to come.”

Another one came indeed, and as the clock ran out, the family became champions. A season-long dream, willed to fruition. If that wasn’t enough, the Spartans were named the number one squad in the country by United Soccer Coaches; a fitting end to a historic season.