Kris Tyrpak takes nothing for granted. He’s a goal-scoring machine and the face of the surging Austin Aztex soccer side, but checks any ego at the door and punches his time clock each day before practice.
Tyrpak, a forward from Dripping Springs, has become the Aztex’s go-to player this second half of the Premier Development League season. He scored a team-high nine goals — including three in the division-clinching win over Oklahoma City FC two weeks ago — and has sparked Austin’s run to the Mid-South Division title. He leads the Southern Conference in points.
The Aztex, who are in their second season, play host to the Southern Division Final Four this weekend.
Scoring is nothing new to Tyrpak, who earned Central Texas boys player of the year honors in 2010. He led the Aztex and had two hat tricks last season by showing the ability to create separation and find open space on the field, leaping above defenders to head in goals. He was one of three all-conference selections for the Aztex.
“Kris has been a huge part of our success the past two seasons,” Aztex coach Paul Dalglish said. “We hope in three or four years we can look back and see that the Aztex played a part in his journey (to the higher levels of the sport).”
This season, Tyrpak — who plays collegiately at Houston Baptist — has been even better, despite being a marked man in many matches. He credits his work in practice with the MLS’ Houston Dynamo for making him understand the added level of intensity needed to be successful.
“The Dynamo’s practices are difficult, and if you are not working hard, the coaches will call you out and sometimes even tell you to get off the field,” Tyrpak said. “At that level, mistakes on the first touch become turnovers. Playing with those guys makes you understand that this is a profession, and you have to be a professional to succeed.”
Austin defender and team captain Zach Pope said Tyrpak’s work ethic spurs his teammates and culminates in Tyrpak’s ability to turn chances into goals.
“The goals he scores on the weekend are a direct result of the effort he puts into his work every day,” Pope said. “He’s a guy who shuts up and does his job — he never complains and has the same attitude every day. Those are attributes that will help him succeed at the next level. Kris is just one man on this team and he understands his role.”
Anticipation builds when the Aztex get the ball to Tyrpak, especially in a one-on-one matchup with a defender when the goalkeeper is vulnerable. He’s taken advantage of most of his chances, scoring nine goals from just 29 shots.
“I have just become more intelligent as a player,” he said. “I just have to look for the channels and be more patient, and that allowed me to be in the places I need to be. I have been able to be in the right position to score a lot of time this season, and that’s been a process.”
Last season, Austin earned a spot in the playoffs and even won its first-round game against Ocala, Fla. before bowing out in the finals. Tyrpak said the Aztex’s attitude this season — one that saw Austin win 11 matches and tie two in 14 trips to the pitch — sets the table to take the next step forward.
“Things almost came too easy for us last year, but we’ve adapted a real blue-collar attitude this season,” Tyrpak said. “We’ve added a lot of depth, which has allowed the starters to get an occasional rest and be at our best for the big games. We feel like this is our time.”
PDL SOUTHERN DIVISION FINAL FOUR
Friday-Saturday, House Park. Friday’s semifinals — Austin Aztex vs. Panama City Beach Pirates, 7:30; Laredo Heat vs. Ocala Stampede, 5. Saturday’s final is at 7:30.