Chained arm-in-arm in a small circle with his players, Lehman Lobos head coach Nauri Garcia provided praise during a post-game huddle despite a result that didn’t go his team’s way.
Based on what he saw, Garcia felt his Lobos didn’t look the part of a team still searching for its first district victory.
While Lehman couldn’t keep the Vandegrift Vipers off the scoreboard in a 3-0 loss, Garcia saw vast improvement in a team continuing to battle in a rough and tumble district.
“We’re not done. We’re improving,” Garcia said. “Our goal is to get better and better. Tonight, our goal showed against Vandegrift.”
Garcia said his team played “with a lot more heart” and showed various attributes of improvement.
Marking better on the defensive end, primarily transitioning from offense to defense, has been an issue Lehman has struggled with, Garcia said.
Lobo senior goal keeper Maya Erwin said the team fought to “hold the 40” yard line and pull numbers back in defense. The result was forcing Vandegrift’s offense into offside situations.
Erwin said the Lobos also worked to push the Viper offense out as wide as possible.
The tactic forced Vandegrift to adjust, which led to an open middle of the field for them to strike, Erwin said.
While Vandegrift held a 1-0 lead at halftime, Erwin said the Lobos “played to their level.”
“They were working as hard as we were,” Erwin said. “It was like they were playing a state championship game.”
But Lehman’s defense couldn’t keep the Viper offense down in the second half. Vandegrift scratched together two more goals, the latter coming with less than 20 minutes to play in the game.
Struggles to attain possession in order to create offensive chances plagued the Lobos, Garcia said. While the Lobos had the stamina to create a few scoring chances in the final 15 minutes, they were unable to consistently transition to enact a counter to Vandegrift’s speedy and efficient offense.
“It’s soccer and you have to get the ball to score,” Garcia said. “We’re not possessing it like we should be right now.”
With first place Vandegrift in its rearview mirror, Lehman now eyes Friday’s match against Hays. Garcia said he believes the Lobos could compete if they mirror Tuesday’s performance.
“We preach this, we have to be perfect in this district because these teams are out there and their caliber is so high,” Garcia said.