by JOSHUA YOUNG
On a cold and windy night at Lobo Field, it did not take long for the Lehman boys soccer team to warm up. Only 13 minutes into the match with the Manor Mustangs, senior captain Eli Guajardo found junior Manuel Diego for the first and only goal of the match, giving the Lobos a 1-0 lead and the third place title in the 2013 Rebel Cup.
The decision to play on Tuesday night for the third-fourth place bracket game was made by Lehman and Manor coaches during the Rebel Cup last weekend. Both teams had already played numerous games during the tournament, and the Lehman-Manor match had already been on both schools’ schedules.
During the match Tuesday night, the Lobos faced pressure all night from the Manor offensive attack, but were able to hold on to the shutout thanks to the play of keepers Mikey Torres and Luis Cortes. The Lobos saw two of their own scoring chances squandered as well as Michael Diers just missed a shot late in the first half, and Guajardo could not capitalize on a breakaway late in the second half.
Despite the Lobos’ third place finish, Lehman head coach Jay Sansom was cautiously optimistic about his team’s play on the night and over the weekend.
“We still have a long way to go defensively, both formation and personnel wise. We also need to take advantage of our set pieces, penalty kicks, and improve on the mental side of the game.”
The Lobos have only a couple of days before facing a very good Clemens team on Friday night at home, but taking third place in a tournament with so many highly ranked teams is a positive sign for this young Lobo squad.
The Lobos faced Manor after a Thursday win 1-0 over Akins and a 1-1 tie with Reagan on Friday.
On Saturday afternoon, Lehman was not quite sure where they stood in the standings of the Rebel Cup.
A win against a good Leander squad would have placed them in first place of their group. Lehman got just that, using skillful play to defeat Leander 4-2, earning the Lobos a Top 5 finish in the 2013 Rebel Cup.
The first thing on the Lobos’ minds was to generate more offense, since they only scored two goals in two games.
“We talked about putting the ball in position; keeping the ball at the point. We just kept the ball on the ground. Faster play also helped,” said Sansom during the weekend.
The Lobos took their coach’s advice and came out looking to score early and pressure the Leander Lions’ defense. Freshman Diego Garcia responded with 3 first half goals, all in the first 15 minutes of play. Then, in the 25th minute, junior Manuel Diego hit an arching cross which found senior Delfino Moncivais, who nailed it home for a 4-0 lead for the now confident Lobos.
From there, it was time to focus on the defensive effort to try and preserve a shutout. Leander already had 2 shots on goal which bounced off the crossbar, and they would finally break through before the half with a goal of their own to make it 4-1.
The Lobos maintained control of possession in the second half. Save for one goal allowed, the Lobo defense held firm for the remainder of the contest. The strong play of sophomore midfielders Rene Torres, Bryan Percastegui, and junior midfielder Albert Percastegui limited the Lions’ chances.
Torres was quick to point out the collective effort from the entire team.
“I say the defense played a big part in (the win). The defenders kept the ball up, working to the midfield, which (in turn) gave us a chance to score,” said Torres.
Sansom was impressed with the Mustang’s effort in the Cup.
“(Manor) had a good showing; they tied (Cibolo Steele) 0-0. Our hands will be full. If we play like we did against Reagan, we will be in trouble. If we play like we did against Leander, we will succeed,” Sansom said, in anticipation of the game on Tuesday night.