Cori Isbell is one of the most valuable players defensively on the Hays High girls soccer team, but Indians coach Silas Hibbs has also watched the junior evolve into an offensive threat.
Isbell showed off that capability in the second half of Thursday's crosstown matchup against Thomas More Prep-Marian, helping spark the Indians to a 2-0 win at HHS Field.
Isbell put the Indians on the board in the 52nd minute, lofting in a deep shot just inside the crossbar.
"Cori is such a tough player defensively, and she's really become a big piece in our offense this year, which is cool," Hibbs said. "We've been working with her and Kallie (Leiker) and Savannah (Schneider) and some of other center mids to have confidence taking that shot from outside the box. Cori is a fierce competitor and to see her punch it away was awesome."
The wind appeared to disrupt a couple scoring chances for Hays earlier in the game, but Isbell used it to her advantage.
"I had a great ball in (from Schneider)," Isbell said. "The cross was great. I knew the wind would hold the ball up and I knew if I tried to chip the keeper up a little bit, it would go in."
The Indians, who improved to 8-3-1, added an insurance goal a few minutes later when Schneider scored off an assist from Leiker.
"Kallie and Savannah have a really good relationship off the field and a good relationship on the field," Hibbs said. "They kind of have a sixth sense about each other."
The Indians had trouble converting on some promising chances in the first half but Isbell said Hays was confident at the break.
"It was bound to fall. We had a good percentage of shots, it just didn't go in," she said. "But we were going to score. No reason to panic. At halftime we were calm, cool and collected. We just knew we had to take care of business, and we did the second half."
TMP's best opportunities were created late in the game but the Monarchs couldn't finish, dropping to 7-3 on the season.
"I think my people up front could have created more opportunities, better chances," TMP coach Darryl Wellbrock said. "I don't know if they weren't feeling it today or what. And, then again, we're all from the same town so everybody knows what to watch for. We were watching for their good players and obviously they were keeping a check on Aubrey (Koenigsman) and Ashley (Ostrander) and Kayla (Vitztum)."
Isabel Robben earned the shutout in goal for the Indians.
Neither team entered the game at full strength, with key players sidelined by injury.
Wellbrock said the Monarchs particularly missed senior defender Halle Lang.
"Don't want to blame it all on that but (Lang) is definitely one of our key figures on the back line," Wellbrock said. "The injuries are starting to build up and it's affecting us quite a bit. Our starting keeper (Gracie Schmidt) is out. Allison Applequist, we had to pull her out in the second half because her hip was bothering her again. I think she helped us a lot in the first half. And we had to shift people to different positions to field a team, stuff they're not comfortable with.
"All-in-all, I think we played them pretty well for what we have. For a good team, we played them well."
The Indians again played without junior Hannah McGuire and also were without freshman Sierra Smith.
"Hannah McGuire, she can probably be back, we're just trying to take it easy on her ankle," Hibbs said. "Sierra Smith is another girl who has played some big minutes for us and is out for a little while as well with a minor head injury. We were missing two kind of key players but also TMP was missing a key player, too."
With the win, the Indians bounced back from Monday's 1-0 overtime loss at Great Bend.
"I think this is making a great statement for our team that we can bounce back from adversity," Isbell said. "Great Bend was an unfortunate game but that's behind us and today we won and that's all that matters."
TMP will take part in the Bishop Miege Tournament on Friday and Saturday. Hays will play at Garden City on Monday.