By JASON GORDON
The Hays boys soccer team clinched its second straight district title with a 1-0 win at Cedar Creek Friday night.
Thanks to a Christian Varela first-half goal against Cedar Creek, the Rebels advance to play at Manor in the bi-district playoffs Friday at 7:30 p.m. Last year, the Rebels knocked off Manor 5-1 in the bi-district round.
As a result, the Lehman boys finish third in district and will play Pflugerville Connally Friday night in the bi-district round at Connally beginning at 8 p.m.
Last year, Hays had clinched the district title before spring break and had a stellar 21-1-1 record in the regular season. This year, the Rebels faced a few more ups and downs during their regular-season journey but the end result was the same.
“It was pretty wild heading into our last game knowing if we won or tied we were district champs and if we lost we were probably going to finish fourth,” Hays head coach Jason Burnett said. “We definitely faced some adversity with a few losses this year but I think that made us stronger. We found out what our team was made of. They are a tough and determined group. I think we are ready for the playoffs and I expect us to do well.”
Lehman still hasn’t won a playoff game in a team sport since the school opened in 2004. The Lobo boys soccer team has made the playoffs four times now.
The Lehman boys soccer team almost broke the streak last year but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Elgin in the bi-district round in a shootout that lasted nine players deep.
“I think it would be great for all our students if we started to have playoff success,” Lehman head coach Jay Sansom said. “I think it builds morale and it’s great to have everyone behind you when you get on a roll in the playoffs. We have the talent, and we’ve been close to winning in the playoffs before. Now it’s just a matter of going out and getting it done.”
As expected, the Hays girls beat Cedar Creek Friday night. The Lady Rebs won 4-0 behind a three-goal hat trick from Kelli Uresti and another goal by Mila Mustos. Stephanie Ellis had two assists for the Lady Rebs and Samantha Hollensbe and Uresti also added assists to wrap up the regular season.
Bastrop won the girls district title, but Hays and Lehman tied for second place with identical 9-2-1 records.
Since both beat the other 1-0 in the two matches the Lady Rebs and Lady Lobos played this season, the two will have a one-game playoff Tuesday to see who gets the second-place playoff seed. The game will begin at 6 p.m., at Shelton Stadium.
Both squads are confident headed into the rivalry game that has postseason implications.
“I definitely feel good going into a third matchup against Lehman,” said Hays head coach Cole Reynolds. “I think our team wants to come away this season having beaten them twice since the series is tied right now.”
Uresti agrees with her coach.
“We underestimated Lehman the first time we played them and we shouldn’t have,” Uresti said. “Lehman and Hays are two completely different soccer teams mentally and physically and we are going to go out there in the third match and prove that. We want to win not just because of the playoffs but because they are Lehman and we are Hays.”
Lady Lobos’ captain Haley Parsons is confident in her team’s ability as well.
“Hays will definitely have their hands full come game day,” Parsons said. “We are more hungry, more driven, and more passionate than we were for our last match. It will ultimately come down to who wants it more.”
Whichever team wins the Lady Lobo-Lady Rebel matchup will play Connally in the bi-district playoff round Friday or Saturday, and the loser of Tuesday’s Hays-Lehman game will play Hendrickson in the bi-district round Friday or Saturday.