Rider Set For Playoff Rematch

Rider's boys soccer team has been here before, playing Fort Worth North Side in the regional quarterfinals, with a shot at advancing to the regional semifinals at Memorial Stadium.

"It's always in my head," senior forward Ruben Flores said, "We should have won state last year. They took it away from us. This year, it's payback."

It may be the same round of the playoffs with the same team, but Rider head coach Josh Hill says the Raiders will face a different type of North Side team. He says they're less physical, but more skillful this season.

Rider's riding a 12-game winning streak and a 24-2 overall record, including a 2-0 win over Birdville Friday night.

"I think it should carry over," Hill said. "You just look at the kids faces, and there's excitement right now. They're ready to play, ready to come to practice, and that's always a good thing."

One of the newest Raiders is fresh to the rematch with North Side. Junior Christian Okeke transferred to Rider from Christ Academy. This is his first year playing high school soccer. He's played club soccer since he was 10 and currently plays for FC Premier out of Dallas.

"It's a lot different than club," Okeke said. "I like it a lot more, cause you get to see people (teammates) every day, hang out with them, to play with them is just fun."

Okeke's fit right in on the field, scoring 35 goals and dishing out 16 assists this season.

For Rider, it's been a super addition to an already-good team.

"He brings a whole new dynamic to the team," Hill said. "He's able to beat a player one-on-one. He's able to set up a goal. He's pretty much able to do it all."

Flores, who's second on the team with 12 goals and 13 assists, says he's one of the best forwards he's ever seen.

"As soon as a pass him the ball, I know it's going to be a dangerous play," Flores said.

Hill adds that he thinks no player in the state can stop Okeke on a one-on-one, wide scoring chance.

Okeke will have another shot at the playoffs next season, but for Rider's senior class, this last run is it.

"It motivates me," Okeke said. "I want to win, so we can keep going with them."

Rider and FW North Side will face off at Mineral Wells at 7 p.m.