A Brayden Coronado goal scored in the final minutes Friday allowed the Hays Rebels soccer team to secure a 2-2 tie with the rival Lehman Lobos in a back-and-forth match at Shelton Stadium.
“He’s (Coronado) not a guy who likes to shoot, so I was very impressed that he did what he did tonight,” Hays head coach Cole Reynolds said. “He took the ball and found the space and put it in the net. That’s what it takes.”
Resiliency played a role in Hays escaping from a deficit on two separate occasions in the game. Lehman gained an early 1-0 advantage when Lobo Emilio Bartolo headed in a goal off of a corner kick four minutes into the contest. Hays, however, battled back and rallied to equalize. when Rebel Gerardo Rodriguez volleyed a kick into the left corner of the goal. Reynolds lauded Rodriguez, who has been the team’s leading scorer for the past few years.
“That’s something I think we’ve improved on a lot over the past couple of years,” said Reynolds. “The ability to be resilient and to come back against that kind of adverse situation. In the past we let that get to us and affect our play, and these guys stepped up and made it happen.”
Bartolo’s goal in the first couple minutes of the game was key for Lehman’s confidence and ability to play physical in the 18-yard box, despite only having three total shots in the first half.
“We’ve been kind of struggling for goals lately, so it was good to see those guys (score),” said Lehman head coach Rene Medina. “We’ve been really focusing on keeping a rhythm to our possession and doing better in that sense, so it was good to see that happen.”
In the second half, Lehman regained the lead with 11:09 left on the clock via a slicing shot by captain Edwin Beltran. But Coronado and the Rebels answered back in the final three minutes of the game, giving each team a point in district with the tie.
For the Lobos (6-5-2, 1-3-1), the tie was vital toward overcoming early district struggles. Lehman’s lone win so far in district play came against Austin High.
“It was very important,” Medina said. “We’ve had a bad run of games lately, so we needed the point, we need some kind of result to build off of and take steps forward.”
Friday’s result followed a theme of draws for Hays in the past few games. After going 1-1 in their first two district tilts, the Rebels have tallied three straight ties in a row.
“So we are in a district where we keep telling my boys, ‘any team can win on any night’,” Reynolds said. “We’re not losing, we’ve had a couple of ties for key games we would certainly like to have a win. But proud of a tie.”
Hays and Lehman will have their re-match at Lobo Stadium on March 3, at 7:45 p.m.