Two wins and two ties over a three-day period not only gave the Lehman Lobos an unblemished start to its 2017 campaign, but fifth place honors at the annual Rebel Cup.
While the Lobos feature a young roster, head coach Brad Baker said the team is quickly building confidence.
Lehman returns four players from last year’s team including senior forward Ezekiel Gallegos and senior center midfielder Daniel Palacios.
“Both guys control the middle of the field and make things happen,” Baker said.
Senior Penniel Rodas and sophomore Alex Mantilla also return for the Lobos.
The Lobos will also look to a roster filled with youth. Aiding the team is sophomore forward Santos Hernandez, who has scored four goals on the season so far.
With several players injured at the start of the season, including senior Victor Ponte, Baker said the Lobo coaching staff will have a challenge finding the best starting 11.
“Our bench is going to be pretty solid,” Baker said.
Baker was pleased with his team’s outing at the Rebel Cup, which had the Lobos go 2-0-2.
Lehman began the tournament with a 3-3 draw with former district foe Akins, followed by a scoreless tie with Elgin, which finished in second place overall.
The Lobos rolled to a 5-0 win over Lampasas, which qualified Lehman to play Cedar Creek in the consolation final contest Saturday.
A pair of early goals scored in the first half allowed Lehman to cruise past Cedar Creek 2-0.
While the team was “banged up” leading into the consolation final, Baker said the team played its best game of the tournament despite only suiting out 12 players.
“We dropped some key players in certain spots that gave us some different looks … Our fitness wore out a little bit. Play dropped a little, but it was the best we looked all season.” Brad Baker, head coach
The Lobos now prepare for a difficult early season schedule prior to starting district play. Lehman will play Bowie, McCallen and Del Valle, which claimed the Rebel Cup title, all within the next few weeks.
Baker said he plans to figure out “who is playing where” and finding a solid rotation, as the Lobos have players who can play “in different spots.”
Allowing his young team to take on tougher competition is also a factor.
“We’ve got some real tough games to get these kids to understand what a real varsity match looks like” Baker said.
Lehman then tackles the district schedule, which includes 14-6A champion Lake Travis, Westlake, Vandegrift and Hays.
Should the Lobos defeat the “top group” of teams in the new 25-6A, he belives the Lobos could potentially claim a playoff spot and perhaps steal third place.
“That would be huge for this team,” he said. “They haven’t seen the playoffs in this huge district in a while.”