The rise of Colton Walter
By Mike Schoeffel
As a freshman last season, Colton Walter started every game for the Liberty Hill varsity soccer team, scoring three goals over the course of the season.
That, of course, was an accomplishment in itself, but Walter wasn’t satisfied with merely making contributions here and there. For the follow-up to his first varsity season, he wanted to become less of a role player and more of a leader.
Walter ended the regular season of his sophomore campaign tied with junior Jordan Schwingendorf as the team’s leading goal-scorer (11). He tacked on six assists, too, and notched a team-high 28 points.
Thanks in part to Walter’s rise, the Panthers finished District 25-4A play with a 9-2 record and will take on Taylor in the bi-district round of the postseason this Friday.
“As a freshman, I was lucky enough to be the starting defensive midfielder,” Walter said. “Since last year, I have focused more on my attacking play and have been making sure that I put away my opportunities.”
Walter has learned a number of lessons during his breakout campaign in 2017, perhaps the most important, as he put it, was how to “perform to my ability under the pressure of being younger than everyone else on the field.” Walter said he’s played soccer his whole life, and keeps coming back to the sport, year after year, because of the “feeling I get when I’m out on the field.”
Recently, he’s made other people feel good about seeing him out on the field, too: namely his Head Coach, Darren Bauer.
Bauer has been pleased with Walter’s lightning-quick progression, praising his “ball control” and “passing vision.” Bauer said Walter has “fit right in” with his coaching philosophy and has been particularly impressed with the way he’s helped “control the tempo and possession of the game.”
“He gives us the stability to our system, along with his other teammates in the middle,” said Bauer. “He also gives us that outside shot that can be detrimental to opposing defenses trying to contain an offense.”
Walter has enjoyed a number of high points on the field during his 10th-grade season, including the first hat trick of his career in a 6-0 win over Jarrell on Feb. 7. He lists the two goals he scored in a 3-1 win over Alvarado on March 10 as his personal high-water mark, because Alvarado was “a high-ranking team.” Alvarado finished the regular season 15-5 and will face Benbrook in the bi-district round on Friday.
Liberty Hill, meanwhile, will look to take down Taylor, a team that has won eight of its last 10 games. It will be the third playoff game of Walter’s career after playing in two last season. The scouting report on the Ducks is that they’re a strong defensive team, and Walter said he and his teammates have been “practicing being more patient with our attack and capitalizing on our opportunities.”
So what is keeping Walter and his teammates motivated?
“Knowing that if we lose this game, our season is over,” he said. “We all will come into this game very focused.”