THE WOODLANDS — It was a tradition that started within the College Park boys soccer program during the third season of existence. And one that still is upheld to this day.

Score a goal for the Cavaliers and you make your way to the sideline for a big hug from head coach John Owens. Those big hugs have been photographed through the years and always visually capture the joy Owens has for seeing his players succeed on the field.

It’s not often that a big, joyous hug occurs in the forefront when it comes to the Cavaliers goalkeeper, however. The guy in front of the net wearing the different-colored jersey, padded gloves and the unusual uniform number (0? 99?) doesn’t typically score goals unless the flukiest possible circumstances allows it to occur.

So typically, College Park senior Ben Dixon doesn’t receive those enthusiastic Owens handshakes and bear hugs during the course of a game.

“Nine times this year we’ve had clean sheets,” Dixon said with a smile on breezy Friday afternoon as the Cavaliers practiced for the next round of the playoffs. “But I don’t get anything other than a firm handshake after the game. Maybe a hug once in awhile, but it isn’t one of those run up and get a big hug. It’s all in fun though.”

But don’t get the hug snub mixed up. Dixon is a very important and valuable member of the co-District 15-6A champions. Just this past Thursday in the Region II-6A bi-district game against Aldine Eisenhower, Dixon helped secure the 1-0 win with a point-blank save with about 30 seconds left.

“That kid is a leader,” Owens said. “There is not a single program (at College Park) that doesn’t ask to borrow him. Can he come and practice with us because this is how you’re supposed to work. This is how you’re supposed to behave. This is how you lead others.”


Dixon started playing soccer about a decade ago according to his own recollection. But at first he played in the field.

Over time, he started getting into the goalkeeper role and here he is today — a college-bound success story.

Dixon was a member of what was then known as the Texas Rush Soccer Club where he played with many students from The Woodlands area.

When he started high school, Dixon attended The Woodlands as he lived in the Highlanders’ feeder zone.

Owens remembers seeing Dixon during a freshman game that season, although he didn’t know anything about him other than he could tell he was a good athlete.

“I was just casually watching the game and saw that The Woodlands had all these great goalies,” Owens said. “Then the next year, he showed up on our campus and I was like ‘I know you, you played against us.’ I think we just immediately kind of bonded over it.”

Dixon moved to a townhome that was closer to College Park before his sophomore year started.

At a boys soccer meeting near the beginning of the school year, Owens and Dixon crossed paths for the first time. Owens instantly recognized him from the school year before, but had no idea that Dixon was now a officially a Cavalier.

“It just kind of kicked off from there,” Dixon said.


Dixon began his sophomore year on junior varsity. But the opening came for him to start on varsity by the end of the year.

“He played with us his sophomore year on JV,” Owens said. “That was the year we had Jaxon Whittington and Brady Burns (on varsity). Our goalie was Sebastian Lungo”

Lungo suffered a non-soccer related injury near the end of the regular season that year.

The Cavaliers were already playoff-bound and Dixon was inserted as the starting goalkeeper in a regular season finale against a tough Conroe team. It resulted in a 1-1 tie.

From there, Dixon started in the bi-district round game. College Park took on Longview at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin.

“He just hit the ground running with us,” Owens said.

The Cavaliers won a wild 5-2 contest with Dixon earning the playoff win in net.

“It was nerve-racking,” Dixon said. “It’s my first playoff game. Sophomore on a playoff team. But it was good, I enjoyed it. It definitely built me into the player and character that I am today.”

Dixon then started the area round game — a 3-2 loss to eventual state champion Dallas Jesuit.


The three tough games to end his sophomore year were enough for Owens to figure out that Dixon had a bright future with the team.

He blossomed as a junior as the Cavaliers reached the area round once again.

“He played all of last year and was (District 12-6A) Goalie of the Year,” Owens said. “The hardest thing for me (at the time) was knowing that he had gotten it, but not being able to tell for so long. That was a great moment the day that I told him. He had a big ol’ smile on his face.”

Dixon was exemplifying the leadership needed to take control of the field and direct College Park.

“At times it can be hard,” he said. “The pressure is kind of on you for everything. I have a bad tendency of getting on myself. The ball has to get through everyone so I’m kind of the last line of defense. I just like having all that pressure on me.”

For his senior year, Dixon has improved even more. In District 15-6A, he allowed just 12 goals in 16 contests (six shutouts). He also made 101 saves while logging 1,200 minutes. He was a part of just one loss in district play in his entire varsity career.

“You have to have short-term memory loss,” Owens said of being an elite goalkeeper. “You can’t let things rattle you. There’s always another play. Having that is really important to go with the skill set. You’re a lot like the captain of the boat. Even if you might not know what’s going on, you have to act like it. You’ve got to be in control the entire time. He has a very controlling presence that is calming on his players and unnerves others.”

In February, Dixon officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play at LeTourneau University.

Even though he might not get those big hugs, Dixon is appreciative of the opportunity Owens has given him.

“He’s meant so, so much,” Dixon said. “He’s put all this faith in me. He told me sophomore year at the end and brought me up for playoffs. He said that I was going to be what he was going to build the program around. I’m so lucky to have that.”

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