by JOSHUA YOUNG
And so the regular season ends, much the same way it started, for the Lehman boys soccer team, with a victory over the Akins Eagles at Lobo Field.
This time, though, it was against the Akins varsity squad instead of the JV, and the weather conditions were about 40 degrees warmer. The Lobos held Akins to just eight shots on goal and two second-half goals, and captured a 3-2 victory in their last regular season match of the season.
The Eagles were the first to find the net in the game when a rebound found the foot of an Akins forward to give them a 1-0 advantage. The Lobos struggled early in the game to find rhythm offensively until freshman Diego Garcia got a free kick chance with less than three minutes to play in the first half, rocketing a 25-yard strike into the upper left corner of the goal.
With that goal, Lehman found its offensive identity and began to attack the midfield. Eventually, senior captain Eli Guajardo, dribbled up the middle and into the box and fired a shot past the Akins goalie for a 2-1 lead. Ten minutes later, Guajardo again penetrated into the Akins box and scored on a breakaway for a 3-1 lead. After another scoring opportunity by Guajardo missed just to the right of goal, Akins went on the counter attack and scored to make the final tally 3-2.
The Lobos’ goal scoring tandem of Guajardo and Garcia has become one of the most formidable duos in the Central Texas area. On the season, the two forwards for the Lobos have battled back and forth for the team lead in goals. Entering the game, they were tied with 20 a piece, with Guajardo now holding a 22-21 advantage. The two players have a rapport and always want to feed each other the ball.
“For a little guy, Diego’s a monster. He’s so quick and he can go left, he can go right, he makes defenders look foolish when he’s dribbling. Oh, and he can finish from anywhere on the field,” Guajardo said about his freshman teammate.
Garcia was a little more reserved about his own abilities, but also pointed out the benefits of having great team chemistry and not being selfish.
“Everybody plays together on this team. They trust me to make plays and I trust them to make plays. We play well together and everybody wants to see the team succeed above anything.”
Guajardo was instrumental in the Lobos’ playoff run last year, and noted how different the team is over the two seasons.
“Both teams have a similar style of play, we play quick to the outside and work back through the midfield to attack. What sets this team apart is the chemistry we have from playing indoor soccer together throughout the offseason because it allowed us to trust each other and know each player’s strengths,” he said.
Both Guajardo and Garcia are within striking distance of the Lehman season record of 25 goals, set last year. But they both say an individual record is not as important as team success.
“I just want the team to succeed first, and if Diego or I break the record, that’s nice too. But, winning the next game is our goal right now,” Guajardo said.
Up next for the Lobos is an unnamed opponent from District 50-4A in the first round of the UIL playoffs. The Lobos have about a week to get some rest and heal wounds, but Leh-man is definitely not going to be just “happy to be there” come playoff time. This group of footballers has only been defeated once and tied once all year, and they have plans for some real play in the next few weeks.