Defense holds firm for Hays, Lehman in 0-0 draw

Fast and fluid action featuring several dramatic shots on goal highlighted a thrilling 0-0 draw between the Hays Lady Rebels and Lehman Lady Lobos soccer teams Tuesday at Shelton Stadium.

But it was the play of the defenses that ruled the roost as neither program’s back line or goalkeepers budged an inch against a variety of attacks.

Hays held the upper hand in the first half with several opportunities to break the stalemate. The Rebels’ best chance in the first half came in the 23rd minute on a corner kick that bypassed Lobo senior goalkeeper Claudia Palomarez, but was eventually cleared away by the Lady Lobos.

Palomarez, who is the team’s emergency goalkeeper, kept the Rebels at bay by collecting seven saves in the first half. Michael Banning, Lobo head girls soccer coach, said Palomarez’ stint between the pipes was her first since playing goalkeeper as a freshman four years ago.

Palomarez credited the play of her teamamtes on the back line to help stem Rebel attacks during the course of the match.

“The biggest thing was our midfielders were dropping back so fast. That was the most effort they put it, and that’s saying a lot, because these girls work so hard,” Palomarez said.

On the opposite end, Hays goalkeepers Ally Webb and Rachel Pugh both stood their ground against a Lobo attack that grew in aggressiveness as the match wore on.

Hays Head Coach Brent Holcomb said Webb is an “excellent technical player” who was an effective communicator on the field. Pugh, who entered the game in the second half, brought speed and a “big foot” to the table.

Holcomb said the Rebels continued to gain familiarity on the field, especially on the offensive side.

While the Lady Rebels moved the ball from the back line to the midfield, getting the ball into the scoring third was still a struggle, Holcomb said.

“Occasionally, we played panicked ball, but for the most part, when we came out in the second half, we possessed the ball fairly well,” Holcomb said.

Both teams hit halftime tied 0-0. Both teams dialed up the tempo in the final 40 minutes.

Hays Lady Rebel Sierra Ramos (center) runs downfield as Lehman Lady Lobos Natalie Herrera (10) and Melissa Navarro (9) defend Tuesday at Shelton Stadium. (Photo by Tracy Stirman, Real Texas Sports Photography)

Banning said the Lobos emphasized a more aggressive style of play, which differed from the team’s defense-first mentlaity. Banning said the goal was to try and catch the Rebels off-guard. The change led to “racehorse soccer,” where Hays and Lehman sped up and down the field to try and notch the first goal.

“We worked on getting everyone on the attack,” Banning said. “Tonight showed what we’ve been working on since November. It’s different than what we’ve done in the past…this was total soccer where we try to get everyone on the attack.”

The Lobos nearly broke through in the 55th minute when a shot by Destiny Eberle went high and rattled off of the football field goal crossbar.

Hays countered a few minutes later with a prime scoring chance on a free kick just beyond the 18-yard box. But Hays’ Baylee Endsley’s kick soared through the field goal uprights and narrowly missed.

Physical play dominated the final few minutes as each team had an athlete draw a yellow card. However, neither program broke through before the match ended.

Holcomb said “cracking the egg” in trying to secure the team’s first district win will be the goal moving forward.

For the Lady Lobos, earning a point as a result of the draw was critical in team development.

“In our district, a tie is a win,” Banning said. “To steal a point from someone else is huge in this district…it’s a great feeling.”

Coming up:

• Hays travels to play at Leander Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• Lehman hosts Lake Travis at Lobo Field Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

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