by MOSES LEOS III
On Feb. 15, the Lady Rebels soccer team defeated the Giddings Lady Buffaloes 3-0. Sophomore striker Mila Bustos scored two goals in the match, with sophomore left wing Tabitha Rodriguez scoring one of her own in the big win.
Then again on Tuesday night, Bustos scored one goal in the first half and junior Samantha Hollensbe added another, giving the Hays High Lady Rebel soccer team a 2-0 win over Lockhart on a cold evening at Shelton Stadium.
Tuesday Hays would hit the ground running, as the Lady Rebels opened play with a powerful press on offense, attacking the Lockhart back line. As a result, the Lady Lions’ defense was on its heels most of the first half, struggling to keep up with the powerful Hays front.
“The attitude of the whole team is what led to the success of our press tonight; that included our defensive players. In soccer, you usually do not see defenders press as much as we did, but we attacked when we needed to attack,” said Lady Rebel head coach Brent Holcomb, who saw his Rebels earn numerous scoring chances early in the contest.
The Rebels’ diligence finally paid off in the 23rd minute, as Bustos corralled an over-the-top pass in front of the net, drilling it home to score the Lady Rebs’ first goal of the match.
“The way our team focused on the field, communicated well and connected on our passes helped us maintain our strength on offense,” said left wing back and Lady Rebel captain Lindy Mendoza, who assisted in first goal of the match.
Four minutes later, the team would strike again, as Hollensbe connected on a 22-yard free kick, which sailed past the Lockhart Goalkeeper’s reach and into the net, giving Hays a to 2-0 in the 19th minute.
The second half began much like the first, with the Lady Rebels pushing, trying to overwhelm the Lady Lions. The Hays press came at a price, as the team garnered numerous offside calls, negating multiple opportunities to pad the lead.
Holcomb was not fazed by the offside calls, as he felt that it spoke to the team’s aggressive style of play. “We needed to watch our lines a bit more carefully. Lockhart must get credit for the (offside traps) they set up, but there are ways to beat those traps. The second part of the first half, we got better at overcoming that issue.”
The Lady Rebel defense made the biggest difference in the second half as the Lady Lions mounted numerous counter-attacks late in the game on the Rebels’ aggressive play.
However, the Lady Rebs quickly recovered, regrouping to thwart the Lady Lions. Lockhart would direct a chaotic flurry of scoring chances in the final five minutes of the contest, but the Lady Rebels quashed all of the attempts.
“Our center-midfielders understood that they needed to help our team defend, especially in the final minutes of the game. They did a good job of assisting tonight. Our thought was that if we focused and played strong, we knew that we could get the win,” said Mendoza.
With the victory, Hays improves to 5-1-1 in District 49-4A play, and will now look forward to the much anticipated second leg of the Hays/Lehman rivalry series on Friday night.
“Hays and Lehman is always a fun rivalry. For our team, we feel that we are coalescing as a group heading into the big game. We are solid, and are hoping to get a few key players back from injury,” Holcomb said.
Equally excited about the Hays/Lehman matchup was Mendoza, who said, “We look forward to a great match, and hopefully, a big win.”