A three-goal night from senior Rocky Perez did the trick for the Hays Rebels as they surged to a 3-1 win over rival Lehman Lobos Friday at Shelton Stadium.
“They just played with heart tonight,” said Hays head coach Jason Burnett. “It was no different than anything else, they just played with heart. We’ve been talking about just trying to get every body firing on all cylinders. It’s just a great group of kids.”
The Rebels only had a few opportunities to score in the first half as they had just two shots on goal. However, it took only one of those shots to give Hays the lead.
Perez’s first goal of the game came with 25 minutes remaining in the first half, giving Hays the 1-0 lead entering into halftime.
“Just tunnel vision pretty much,” Perez said about his first goal on the night. “Only one mindset and that’s to score. That’s about it.”
Lehman tied the game in the second half after a nice pass from Lobos junior Santos Hernandez landed at the feet of sophomore Isaac Salazar. Salazar then split the Rebel defense and shot it through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the back of the net.
The rest of the second half went back and forth with both teams having multiple shots on goal. However, the Lobos held the edge as they had 11 shots in the second half, compared to Hays’ five.
A combination of the Rebels’ defense and sophomore goalkeeper Lane Reynolds was the right recipe for keeping the Lobos off the scoreboard in the second half. Reynolds finished the game with 13 saves.
“Tonight I thought they did a good job of communicating back and forth,” Burnett said about Reynolds and the defense. “They were able to kind of cover each other. Lehman had a couple of great opportunities in there, but hey, sometimes luck shines on you and we had some lucky moments.”
With 14 minutes left in the game, a Lehman set piece turned into a fantastic counter by Hays, as Oscar Andersson executed a through-pass to Perez. Perez then turned on the speed and beat the Lobo defense and scored his second goal of the game, giving the lead back to the Rebels at 2-1.
With less than one minute remaining in the match, Perez sealed the win with a long range shot from at least plus 30 yards out, which dropped in the top right corner of the goal. The whole Hays bench then ran to Perez in the middle of the field to celebrate his hat trick.
“I was just going for placement for that one,” said Perez. “Just going for the banger.”
When asked about how he felt after the win and what being able to play with his teammates meant to him, Perez responded with only one word.
“Everything,” Perez said. “Everything. Everything.”