by JOSHUA YOUNG
Having already clinched the district championship with three games left to play, the Lehman High boys soccer team appeared to be cruising into the playoffs.
However, after suffering their first loss of the season on March 7 at the hands of a Giddings team fighting for its own playoff life, the Lobos looked to rebound against Lockhart in the windy confines of Lobo Field on Friday night. Lehman responded well, and thanks to goals in the first two and last two minutes of the first half, they walked away with a 2-0 win.
The Lobos wasted no time getting their offensive chances as senior Eli Guajardo found sophomore Rene Torres with a cross through the box. Torres tapped the ball off the far post for a 1-0 lead only two minutes into the match.
Torres, a sophomore midfielder and key contributor this year, said after the game, “I saw Eli cross the ball from the corner, then it bounced over a defender. I had time to trap it and then strike it with my left foot, luckily it hit off the post and into the goal.”
The Lobos and Lions both had scoring chances come up empty until inside the two-minute mark of the first half. Junior midfielder Fabian Mantilla was fouled just outside the penalty box, and freshman Diego Garcia stepped up and blasted a free kick over three Lockhart defenders into the “upper 90” of the goal to give the Lobos a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, Lehman’s stifling defense made it difficult for Lockhart to mount any offensive threats. The Lobos’ backline did what they have done all year – frustrate and outnumber the opponents’ best players, causing them to settle for long shots which usually did not find the goal. Senior Victor Bravo, and juniors Chris Piedra and Michael Diers were all standouts on the defensive side for the Lobos.
The focus now turns to the postseason for Lehman as they prepare for a non-district match with a skilled Akins squad on March 19. A warm-up for postseason since Lehman has already finished its district schedule, the Akins match will be a test for a team looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Lobos will not know for sure who their first round opponent is until the final district games have been played. But whoever the Lehman Lobos face will be battle tested since several highly ranked teams reside in District 50-4A.