For the first time in three seasons, the Lehman Lady Lobos soccer team bested its rival from across the highway.
By virtue of a clutch late second-half goal by Abby Jaramillo, mixed with strong team defense, Lehman (8-9-1, 7-7-1) defeated Hays (9-8-2, 6-7-2) 1-0 and kept its slim playoff hopes afloat.
The Lady Lobos avenged their 1-0 loss earlier in the season to the Lady Rebels, while also notching Lehman head coach Michael Banning’s first win over Hays since helming the program two years ago.
“In the first round we played really well against Hays, and then we turned around and that was just the beginning of great things,” Banning said. “We’ve built, we’ve practiced hard and we’ve went to different ideas, and my biggest thing is we changed as a team as the year went on. We’re not done peaking yet; I’m proud of these girls. Sky’s the limit for them right now which is nice.”
Lehman controlled the game from the opening kickoff as the Lobos outshot Hays in the first half 11-3, 7-0 on goal. Lehman, however, was unable to capitalize on those scoring opportunities. It wasn’t until the 9:55 mark in the second half when the Lady Lobos broke through with a goal by Jaramillo.
Jaramillo charged a ball that was deflected off a Lady Rebel defender; she then launched it from outside the 18-yard box over Hays’ goalkeeper and into the left corner of the net.
“I just really wanted to finish the shot and beat them,” said Jaramillo. “That was my goal, so I just did it until I finished.”
Banning credited Jaramillo for returning to the team this season and fighting through adversity to become one of the Lady Lobos’ key players. Jaramillo dealt with a nagging quad injury all last season.
“She’s been working hard and that was perfect for her, and perfect for this team.” Banning said.
In addition to Jaramillo’s late game heroics, the Lady Lobo defense was a big piece of the winning formula as it held Hays to only five shots in the game, and just one shot on goal.
Banning complimented Lehman senior Kyla Johnson, senior Alexis Vasquez, sophomore Lilyanna Torres and sophomore goalkeeper Courtney Alexander for the shutout performance.
“All four of them, plus our other two girls in front, played a tremendous game,” Banning said. “You know putting a lot of pressure on them to play that way, it’s not an easy task especially in this district. So I asked a lot of them and they were able to deliver.”
The win puts Lehman in fifth place in 25-6A with only three games remaining in the regular season.
Hays drops to sixth place with a 6-7-2 record (9-8-2 overall) with the loss.
“Well, the next three games are just about having fun and going there and spending time with the players,” Hays head coach Mario Bellver said. “The players like playing soccer, so maybe it will be a little bit better and we shake that stress off and we just have fun and enjoy the game.”