It was a cold Tuesday night battle on the pitch between cross-town rivals (3-6-1) Hays and (2-6-1) Lehman where both defenses showed up to win, but it was the Lady Rebels and their second half goal scored by striker Kayli Wagner that gave them the 1-0 win over the Lady Lobos at Lobo Field.
“In the first half everybody started nervous,” said Hays head coach Mario Bellver. “Lehman is always motivated in playing against Hays, so we were evenly matched. As soon as that goal went in, maybe it was psychological and that gave us the advantage.”
The game was a tale of two halves as Lehman had most of the momentum in the first half, but Wagner’s goal at the 35:35 minute mark in the second half swiftly gave Hays the momentum for the rest of the game.
While the Lady Lobos defense played outstanding in the first half, only allowing one shot on goal, it was three missed opportunities on offense that could’ve changed the game. Lehman had two one-on-one fast break shots that they couldn’t capitalize on, keeping Hays in the game with a score of 0-0 by halftime.
“We played aggressive and we played very, very well,” Lehman head coach Michael Banning said. “I was proud of the girls no matter what the score was. We had to raise our level of expectation from the beginning and we’ve been slowly building and chipping away. Today was awesome, I was super proud them and the way they played. Both teams came out and battled hard.”
The defensive battle continued into the second half, but the early goal off a free kick gave Hays the spark they were looking for. Lady Rebel Izel Gaitan placed a nice ball into the box and over Wagner’s head, where Wagner then adjusted and sliced the ball into the top left corner of the net.
“When the ball went over and I just kind of settled it and volleyed it over,” Wagner said. “I watched it in like slow motion just go over her head hoping it goes in. Then it went in. It was pretty good.”
Bellver added that Wagner’s control of the ball was the key to the score off the free kick, and it gave the Lady Rebels the much needed confidence for the rest of the game.
“She is a player who has really good control, so she can control the ball without facing the goal,” Bellver said. “She has the ability to turn and take really good shots, and thats basically what she did. We got lucky because it was a free kick that just landed on her, and she used her ability to control the ball and turn right away and it went in. Beautiful shot.”
After taking the lead Hays settled in and controlled possession for majority of the second half. It wasn’t until late in the game where Lehman pushed forward with a couple of scoring opportunities on goal, but ultimately they came up short as the Lady Rebels played stingy defense until the end.
Lehman will look to get back on track on the road as they face Anderson this Saturday at Nelson Field, while Hays returns home to play Westlake on Friday at 7:45 p.m.
Correction: In our print edition, we incorrectly attributed Ella Alvarado with an assist in Friday’s game. Hays Rebel Isel Gaitan tallied the assist. We apologize for the error.