District title dreams are still within reach for the Lehman Lobos boys soccer team following a 3-1 win over the rival Hays Rebels Tuesday at Shelton Stadium.
With only three more games left in the regular season, Lehman head coach Rene Medina said focusing on the road ahead is imperative. This is the Lobos’ aim, to score the first boys team sport district title at the 6A level in school history.
“It’s a tough game every round (in district) and there’s no time to lay off,” Medina said. “They’re a good, solid group that’s stayed level-headed and have bought into it.”
Lehman (15-3-3, 10-1-2) utilized a trio of first half goals to seize momentum in the contest.
Medina said executing off-the-ball movement and combining into the scoring third, attributes they had worked in practice, led to success early on.
The Lobos also took advantage of spaces between Hays’ lines of defense, which led to multiple scoring chances, Medina said.
Success on set pieces also paid dividends for the Lobos. Two of Lehman’s three goals came off of corner kicks.
“The guys stayed aggressive on set pieces and they take pride in that,” Medina said.
Lehman’s initial strike came at the 24th minute mark of the first half when Lobo Noah Marquez and Zach Hickey teamed up to put a corner kick into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Lobo Eric Guadarrama padded Lehman’s lead to 2-0 five minutes later when he blasted in a penalty kick. Hickey closed the salvo right before halftime by heading in a corner kick from point-blank range, giving Lehman a 3-0 lead.
On the opposite side, lethargic play hindered Rebel efforts in the early going. Hays head coach Jason Burnett said his players looked “flat” and had no energy for most of the first half.
Once they shook off the rust, Hays (3-12-2, 2-9-2) orchestrated a handful of successful counter-attacks into the Lobo end, rattling off six shots in the first 40 minutes. That included a handful of “point-blank shots” that Burnett said “could have changed the game.”
Burnett said the Rebels’ game plan centered on countering Lehman’s aggressive style.
“They’re a possession-based team and they move the ball well, so our best bet was to catch them in transition,” Burnett said.
Applying pressure paid off for Hays early in the second half as the Rebels tallied their lone goal in the first 20 minutes. However, Lehman’s defense held firm and kept Hays scoreless the rest of the way.
Preparing for the Lobos’ final three games of the regular season is Medina’s goal. Lehman could clinch a playoff berth with a win over Anderson in its home regular season finale Friday. Lehman then has back-to-back road tests against Bowie and Akins.
Holding each other accountable and staying cool under pressure is what Medina said has guided the Lobos all season long.
“We have a solid group of seniors and they have level heads and they remind themselves to focus on consistency,” Medina said. “It’s a motto we’ve held since last spring.”
Hays hosts Westlake Friday, followed by road games against Lake Travis and Del Valle.