The game plan was simple — Tristan Bragg had to produce.
Prior to the start of the season, Salado head coach Michael Goos sat down with his standout forward, explaining the importance his play would be to the team’s success.
“I wanted him to be a little more consistent,” Goos said, “because in the past, he had weeks when he played really well and then weeks he didn’t play so great or help us offensively.”
Bragg responded to the challenge.
In his senior season, the team captain recorded 21 goals and nine assists, helping the Eagles win the program’s first district championship. Along with propelling his team into the area round of the Class 4A playoffs for a third consecutive year, Bragg’s efforts earned him the title of Killeen Daily Herald All-Area Co-Offensive MVP.
It was a decision endorsed by Goos after witnessing Bragg’s dedication to dependability during the season.
“He was always there for us in big games,” the coach said. “He was a player we could always rely on.”
Bragg shares the award with Lampasas striker Nick Lawson, who scored 21 goals and 13 assists for the Badgers during his junior season. Despite serving as the team’s leading scorer during its run to a second consecutive playoff appearance following a drought dating back to 2006, Lampasas head coach Ryan Race is quick to point out Lawson’s talents are not limited to the pitch.
“He’s one of our main offensive weapons, and he has a keen eye around the goal,” Race said. “He’s also the top student in his class, and that is something that I value — kids working in the classroom first. … He’s just a great kid.”
Although Lawson delivered an impressive offensive season, Race is already expecting even more in 2015 as seven Badgers graduate from the team, including Dustin Rumple, who was named 34-4A All-District Co-Midfield MVP as a senior.
“We will need someone to fill that void and take the ball from the wing position,” Race said, “and we are going to run a little bit of a different attack next year, so hopefully, that will ease things up for Nick.”
While Lawson, who is the district’s defending offensive MVP, will look to end his high school career with a strong showing next season, Bragg walks away from Salado as one of the premier players in program history.
In three years on varsity, Bragg, who committed to play at Hardin-Simmons, totaled 38 goals and a dozen assists, and holds school records for career goals, goals in a season (22), single-season district goals (14) and most goals in a match (4).
Having seen Bragg’s capabilities firsthand, Goos is confident he will thrive at the collegiate level as well.
“That’s a very, very good soccer school,” Goos said, “but I think he’ll do well there.”