A wayward shot from Leander’s Andrew Zenk dribbled past the first line of defense. Another Rebel defender took a stab at the ball with his foot, but missed. The ball continued its trajectory, passing another defender en route to the goal.
Hays goalkeeper Evan Barker ranged to his left in preparation for the slow dribbler that continued to defy the odds.
At the time, Leander held a 3-2 lead over Hays with less than 15 minutes to play. Zenk’s fortuitous shot – which passed three Rebel defenders and dropped in the bottom left corner for a goal – gave the Lions a two-point lead.
The goal was enough to ensure Leander held on for a 4-3 win Tuesday night.
“They played hard … It was a cheeky game – a lot of goals were scored.”
Jason Burnett, Hays coach
That’s becoming an alarming trend. Hays has allowed at least four goals in five of its last eight games – resulting in six losses and two ties.
Even with another lopsided defensive performance Tuesday night, the Rebels remained in position because their offense kept the margin close.
Hays added its third goal of the match with under five minutes to play. A fervent late rally, including two corner kicks, misfired and the Rebels lost their fourth consecutive game.
“I think the match was anyone’s match,” said Hays coach Jason Burnett. “If we played five more minutes, we are tied back up. That’s the way we were playing. It was just one after the other. We scored, they equalized, we scored, they equalized.”
Hays’ Gerardo Rodriguez opened the game with a straightaway goal from 10 yards out. He almost added another goal later in the first half, but it was wiped away due to an offsides call.
“I thought the offense did a great job all the way around,” Burnett said. “The kids were playing hard, playing physical, playing aggressive. We had opportunities. Some went in. Some didn’t.”
Less than two minutes after Rodriguez’s goal, Leander responded with a goal of its own to tie the match.
“I don’t think it was a defensive breakdown and I don’t think it was anything special they were doing,” Burnett said. “They just won. That’s it.”
Once the second half resumed – tied 1-1 at halftime – the Lions only needed 20 seconds to score the go-ahead goal. Kyle Vogel leaked out past the Rebels backline and fired a goal in the back of the net against a back-pedaling goalkeeper.
It was that kind of night for Hays, still searching for its first district win of the season.
In 11 district matchups this season, the Rebels have been outscored by 28 goals.
“All we can do is go out each game and work as hard as we can,” Burnett said. “Sometimes there’s just teams that are better than you.”