The Hays Lady Indian soccer team out-shot rival Great Bend 17-3 on Tuesday, but the Panthers put a scare into Hays, scoring the first goal of the game, and using a late goal to make things interesting. The Indians escaped with a 3-2 win, improving to 8-3 overall, 5-1 in the Western Athletic Conference where they are still in the hunt for a conference title.
“Our girls do a real good job of communicating with one another and keeping their spacing,” said Hays coach Chris Michaelis. “That’s a big key to the game if you can do that. You’re going to have more time of possession.”
Hays opened the game with three shots on goal in the first two minutes, but Panther keeper Stephanie Lomas was up to task. Fifteen minutes into the game, sophomore Rachel Luedders tested Lomas with a hard shot, but Lomas blocked that one as well.
With the ball often on the other end, Great Bend took advantage of its first real offensive chance. Berenice Prieto and Christina Hernandez played a game of give-and-go with Prieto getting the ball back 30 yards from goal. The senior took a step and fired off a shot that beat Hays keeper Laura Truman just under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.
Hays began working the ball down the right side of the field. April Johnson’s cross to Michele Linville in front of the net was volleyed over the crossbar. Just 38 seconds later, however, sophomore Lacey Pfannenstiel put a shot on goal. That effort was blocked by Lomas, but Linville tracked down the rebound and fired in the equalizer with 10:22 to play in the half.
Hays quickly stole the ball, again attacking the right side. Megan Bird’s pass found Taylor Herman in the box for the go-ahead goal just 19 second after the first goal.
“We try to get the girls to do that every game,” Michaelis said. “We want to get the ball out wide and send it back into the middle in front of the goal and good things will happen.”
Hays put all 10 of its first half shots on goal. Great Bend, missing several players to injury, had only the one shot in the first half, and added just two more shots in the second half.
“We had to play with four JV players today,” said Panther coach Gus Prieto. “It makes a difference, but we fought. It’s hard to do that.”
Hays continued to control the game in the second half, sending several crosses through the box in the first 12 minutes of action. The Panthers got their first chance 15 minutes in when a Hernandez pass found forward Brandi Schneider two yards outside the box. Her shot nearly made it over Truman, but the keeper was just able to get a hand on the ball and keep it out.
Hays continued to work the ball inside. Eventually, that effort paid off as Herman was able to dribble in from the right side of the box and pound a shot past Lomas for a 3-1 lead with 15:56 to play in the game.
The Indians tried adding another insurance goal. Just three minutes after Herman’s second goal, Linville blasted a shot off the crossbar.
Great Bend (2-6-2, 1-5-1) would strike one last time. The Panthers did not get a shot on a late corner kick try, but with the ball still on their end, Kenzie Sinclair sent a pass through the box from the endline. Morgan Harwood was waiting and sent a ball into the side netting for a 3-2 score with 10:40 to play.
Hays has just one defeat in WAC play, a loss to Dodge City. The teams will meet again, likely to decide a conference title. Prieto just wants to see his team get healthy.
“We’ve just got to keep working to get better,” he said. “We just have so many problems with injuries.”