AUSTIN – Time almost seemed to stand still for the Lehman Lobos boys soccer team Friday as they ached for the clock at the Burger athletic annex field to expire.
Having assured themselves of a dominant 4-0 road win over the Akins Eagles, Lehman (17-4-3, 12-2-2) players spent the final 12-plus minutes contemplating ways to celebrate the program’s first district title since the 2013 season.
“It was like, ‘Hurry up and wind down so we can celebrate,” said head coach Rene Medina.
Once the clock hit triple zeroes, a plethora of hugs, smiles, handshakes and exclamations followed, a culmination of a multi-year effort to bring Lehman’s boys soccer program back to forefront.
For Lobo senior captain Eric Guadarrama, being a part of the first Lobo boys team sport to score a district title at the 6A level was a nearly surreal experience.
“It’s an unreal feeling. First time in a while bringing it (district title) home to Lehman, it just feels unreal,” Guadarrama said.
Earning the district title was a testament to the hard work put in by the entire team all season long, Medina said.
Getting the district title, however, meant overcoming a 1-0 loss to Bowie High earlier in the week. Guadarrama said recovering and responding from the defeat, as well as to showing the consistency the program has had all season, was paramount in Friday’s game.
Lehman took that mentality to heart by utilizing an aggressive approach on offense to overwhelm the Eagles from the get-go. The Lobos out-shot Akins 28-12 in the match.
Medina said his team was locked in and was ready to play from the opening whistle.
“We told them coming into this one, ‘Let’s go earn it.’ Let’s make sure everyone knows that we deserve it and that’s what it looked like at the end,” Medina said.
Lehman leapt out to a 1-0 lead roughly 15 minutes into the match when Guadarrama successfully lofted a shot out of the reach of Akins’ goalkeeper. The Lobo lead expanded to 2-0 following a goal from senior Luis Rangel minutes before intermission.
Second half goals scored by senior Noah Marquez and sophomore Joalbert Palacios iced the game for Lehman.
On the opposite end, Lehman’s defense kept Akins at arms’ length and capitalized on a variety of Eagle miscues and turnovers. Fouls also hurt the Eagles as the game went along. Akins was forced to play with only 10 men after a player was sent off via a red card 12 minutes before halftime.
Solid organization across the field, as well as playing in units, has been the key for success this season on defense, Medina said. The Lobos conceded only 10 goals in district play, which was the second fewest in 25-6A.
Guadarrama said ample communication, especially from defenseman Alex Mantilla on the back line, kept up the Lobo defense. Experience on the field, some dating back to their days playing youth soccer, helped as well, Guadarrama said.
“We just make sure we’re using teamwork up and down the field, it’s that whole thing put together,” Medina said.
The Lobos now look ahead to their first playoff appearance in roughly six seasons. Lehman, the top seed out of 25-6A, will take on the fourth seed out of 26-6A in the bidistrict round of the playoffs. Time, date, location and opponent for that contest have not yet been determined.
Lobo senior Luis Rangel, who hasn’t felt such success since earning a district title in middle school, relished the chance to compete in the postseason.
“I haven’t been in the playoffs, but I think it’s going to be great,” Rangel said.