Indians earn shutout against Junction City
By AUSTIN COLBERT
There are many theories for the Hays High School boys' soccer team's current three-game win streak. Maybe it was an embarrassing 5-0 home loss to Dodge City on Sept. 19 that woke the Indians up. Maybe it's an improved defense that earned its first shutout of the season in an 8-0 win over visiting Junction City on Tuesday.
Or maybe it is the return of senior Jordan Windholz, who scored half of the Indians' goals against the Blue Jays.
"The boys bounced back good. That shows character after a 5-0 beating," Hays High soccer coach Saul Hernandez said. "Now I think we are starting to gel more and obviously Jordan coming back adds a different dynamic to the team. I think that's helped a lot."
Windholz tore his anterior-cruciate ligament during basketball season last year and was cleared to play soccer for the first time this season on Sept. 24 against Great Bend, the team's first game since the shutout loss to Dodge City.
Windholz didn't score that game, but still was a factor in the team's 3-2 win. In his second game back on Sept. 26 at Buhler, Windholz scored the first two goals in a 3-1 win.
On Tuesday against Junction City, Windholz scored four goals (his career best is six set against Independence last season) and led the Indians to their most convincing victory in a season that started 2-4.
"I'm not going to discourage the other team, but I felt like our team played good together; we connected and we were there and worked hard," Windholz said. "I think it's a huge confidence boost. Early on (in the season) we struggled. We lost some games that we shouldn't. But our team is starting to come together."
Hays High (5-4) wasted no time jumping out to an early 2-0 lead over Junction City (2-9). Senior Lane Clark received an easy goal off a corner kick rebound in the sixth minute, and junior Nathan Romme scored a minute later.
Windholz made it 3-0 with a goal in the 29th minute, set up by a beautiful pass from Clark. For good measure, senior Shawn Herrman scored in the 36th minute and Windholz made it 5-0 at halftime after putting in a rebound goal off of a Clark shot.
Windholz tacked on goals in the 56th and 76th minutes of the second half, and Clark finished off the night with his second goal with 3:34 to play.
While the eight-goal performance sticks out, the zero on the other end was just as big a deal. It is the first shutout of the season for Hays High, and the first career shutout for Indian senior goalkeeper Sheldon Sulzman.
"It's actually a big deal. It's never happened before and it's all thanks to the good defense that we had," Sulzman said. "They stepped up today and made promises that we'd get a shutout, and got the shutout."
Hernandez made getting a shutout a key focal point against Junction City.
The team was close in its game against Buhler on Sept. 26, giving up its only goal with less than four minutes to play.
Combine that with an inspired effort in the win over Great Bend following the Dodge City dismantling, and you find a team that felt it was due a shutout.
"Our defense has been working hard, (Sulzman) has been working hard -- we deserved the shutout," Hernandez said.
"They all did their job well today and got their reward for it."
Now the Indians will try and keep the momentum of their three-game win streak going when Liberal visits for a 1 p.m. matchup on Thursday. At 1-2 in WAC play, Hays High can't take any more conference losses if it wants to stay in title contention.
"It's huge. If we can get this in and we get on top and win the rest of the WAC, I feel we have a great chance," Windholz said.
"I know if we can get it on Thursday it's going to give our team so much more."