Rangers wrangle Lobos in bi-district playoff

WIMBERLEY – Plenty of hugs circulated among the Lehman Lobos boys soccer team Friday as the team came to terms with a 2-0 bi-district playoff round loss to the Smithson Valley Rangers.

Anatomy of the loss was easy to diagram as much as it was a tough pill to swallow. A sluggish start, which led to a pair of first half Smithson Valley goals, ultimately brought Lehman’s historic season to an abrupt end.

For players and coaches alike, however, understanding the legacy left by the 17 seniors who helped notch the school’s first team-sport district title at the 6A level far surpassed the way the season ended.

Rene Medina, Lobo head coach, said the high bar left by the senior class now sets the stage for the future.

“It’s a big deal leaving a legacy. Coach (Medina) said we set the standard for everyone else that’s younger and they have to come out to work like we did and they’ll be successful, too,” said Lobo senior midfielder Noah Marquez.

Lehman (17-5-3) struggled to get the ball rolling from the opening whistle. Medina said nerves played a primary role in issues in the first 40 minutes of play.

Attempting to contain a speedy and aggressive Ranger counterattack equally posed problems for the Lobos. Marquez said the Lobo transition defense was lacking in the first half, which allowed Smithson Valley to generate several scoring chances.

“We weren’t ready for it. We weren’t ready for a playoff-atmosphere game,” Medina said.

The Rangers struck first when Colton Adkins tallied a goal at the 29th minute mark of the first half to give Smithson Valley a 1-0 lead. Ranger Teag Maples added to the lead roughly 20 minutes later, pushing Smithson Valley’s lead to 2-0.

All told, Smithson Valley out-shot Lehman 9-4 in the first 40 minutes.

Sensing a need to respond, Lehman flipped the tone of the contest in the second half.

Pushed forward by seniors Luis Rangel, Eric Guadarrama and Jesus Meza, Lehman increased the tempo and relentlessly attacked Smithson Valley’s defense. The Lobo offense rattled off 14 total shots in the second half.

Playing with the “Lobo mentality” and trying to bounce back and respond to adversity was the goal, Marquez said.

Putting in the work, no matter what the result was on the scoreboard, was the message Medina relayed during the halftime break.

“They had to go out there and work. I’ve told them from day one, just go back to work,” Medina said.

For all of its efforts, however, Lehman couldn’t bypass the wall that was Smithson Valley’s sophomore goalkeeper Micah Jenkins, who collected seven total saves in the second half. That included a pair of spectacular saves that prevented Lehman from possibly equalizing the match. 

“The keeper had a heck of a game, a great game,” Medina said.

While their season ended earlier than expected, Medina praised the efforts of his team, especially the seniors who helped resurrect the program.

“We’ve told them that this is a great group of seniors who work their butts off and have great character,” Medina said. “You can count on them to do those things to hold each other up and to be accountable when things aren’t going their way.”

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