by Moses Leos III
Come rain, sleet, hail or snow, nothing can stop the intensity which is the Lehman/Hays rivalry, no matter what sport is played.
Nothing, except a rare mid-winter lighting storm, which postponed the big Hays vs. Lehman girls soccer rivalry match until Jan. 30.
Even with the delay, Lehman and Hays showcased strong offensive capabilities, as well as stout defensive ability during key points in the match. In the end, both the Lady Lobos and Lady Rebels drew to a 1-1 tie, proving that 80 minutes would not be enough to settle the score between them.
The contest began with a furious press from the Lady Lobos, who did a remarkable job of keeping Hays’ potent offense in check. The result became the Lady Lobos’ penchant to completely halt Hays’ offense in the midfield, whereby turning the Lady Rebel attack into a counter-offensive in Lehman’s favor.
Lehman’s attack would eventually generate success, as senior center-midfielder Mariah Tamayo received a pass from freshman Dynah Ramos and drilled a 25-yard shot in the 32nd minute for the game’s first goal.
“I would call Mariah, ‘dangerous,’ because she is so creative in the scoring third. She has a great ability to shoot the ball extremely well from distance,” said Lady Lobo head coach Nauri Garcia. “Along with Dynah, they make a great combination on the field.”
The Lobo offense would generate two more concerted offensive opportunities late in the first half, but strong goal keeping from Hays’ senior goalkeeper Sarah Sellstrom kept the Rebels from conceding another goal.
The second half saw a complete role reversal from both squads. Hays took the persona of the aggressive, attacking squad, while the Lady Lobos had to fall back to defend a determined opponent.
Inevitably, much like Lehman was able to do in the first half, Hays would capitalize on the increase in offensive pressure, getting a big goal to equalize the score.
With 18 minutes left to go in the contest, Lindy Mendoza lofted a pass to Jessica Cruz into the penalty box, where Cruz placed a ten-yard shot into the back of the net.
“This goal boils down to our team expecting the ball, anticipating the ball. Jessica did a great job of reading the pass from Lindy. Both were solid,” said Lady Rebel head coach Brent Holcomb.
As time wound down, Hays continued to mount charges into the Lehman defense, nearly scoring on three separate chances inside of 10 minutes to play.
It would be the Lehman defense that would make the largest impact. Despite losing two players to injury in the first half of the match, the Lady Lobo defense consistently ran down Hays’ opportunities, thwarting the chances away with redirections and smart decision making.
Although the first rivalry match of the year ended in a stalemate, both coaches were happy at how their players played in such a big game.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart. We had so many scoring opportunities, but they did not go in. That’s soccer, that’s the way the ball rolls. On defense, we had lost two key players to injury early in the first half, which was tough. Still, we played well against a good Hays team,” said Garcia.
Holcomb was equally complimentary of his squad.
“We did a good job of possession in general. We had good control of the ball, especially in the second half. Our kids are learning to trust in each other on the field. Soccer is solely about trusting your teammates. This team is starting to jell; they played a solid game.”
With the draw, both teams are now 1-0-1 in district play. The Lady Lobos’ next home contest will be on Feb. 5, where the team hosts Bastrop at Lobo Field for a 7:45 p.m. match. The Lady Rebs will have a bye, before travelling to LaGrange for a 6 p.m. match on Feb. 8.