By AUSTIN COLBERT
Opposing coaches often tell a different story on how a game went, but this wasn't the case Thursday when the Hays High School boys' soccer team and Thomas More Prep-Marian met at the Fort Hays State University Soccer Stadium in both teams' regular-season finale.
The teams played to a scoreless draw, and it was the play of each goalkeeper that stood out. TMP senior goalie Keynan Hysten recorded four saves in net, while Hays High junior Jose Guzman stole the show with 12 saves in a game mostly controlled by the Monarchs.
"Their goalie came up with some big saves there at the end," TMP coach Chris Jones said of Guzman. "I think first half we came out a little bit flat and they capitalized on it. But second half on we dominated the game and we were just unlucky not to get a goal, to be honest. We should have scored two or three goals."
It was the second meeting of the season between the teams, the first coming on Sept. 11 at the Maize South Invitational. TMP's 2-0 win that day was the first over Hays High in its 10-year history.
And thanks in large part to Guzman and a resilient defense, the Indians kept it as the only win, the 0-0 tie on senior night also ending Hays High's six-game losing streak.
"I was really pleased with our goalie and just the performance he had. He made really miraculous saves that were huge," HHS coach Jim Maska said. "He's been playing JV all year, struggling there, and then (sophomore starting goalkeeper) Conner Staab was diagnosed with a concussion from the game against Garden (on Tuesday). I can't say enough about what Jose Guzman did. He just played lights out there at goalie."
After a slow start in which Hays High controlled much of the first 20 minutes, TMP finally started to come alive late in the first half and had its share of chances to score, including when it had back-to-back-to-back corner kicks in the span of roughly 60 seconds.
The second half was a war of attrition. Hays High, already hampered by numerous injuries, some season-ending, suffered two more major blows in the second half when it lost seniors Jacob Thorell (ankle) and Nathan Romme (arm/collarbone) in the span of 15 minutes, both likely season-ending.
And with TMP senior Jack You in and out of the game with cramps, making it through a pair of overtime periods still tied seemed an acceptable consolation prize for both teams.
"It's always good to go undefeated against your cross-town rival, especially a storied program like Hays High," Jones said. "It's good to get a win and a tie against them. Should have got two wins, obviously. A little disappointing on that end. But it feels good to be undefeated against them and going into regionals on a high note."
Now, both Hays High (2-11-3) and TMP (8-7-1) will move on with their Class 4-3-2-1A regional games coming up early next week. While the official sites and opponents won't be announced until either today or Saturday, both coaches have said they believe they should host their first playoff game.
Jones said TMP would likely host its regional opener on Tuesday at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex against a currently undetermined opponent. Hays High is looking at a possible Monday play-in game at HHS Field, a trip to Augusta on Tuesday the likely reward for advancing.
And despite having only two wins, Maska believes his team has just a good of a chance to advance out of regionals as TMP if it can keep the intensity showed on Thursday against the Monarchs.
"I was just glad that the boys showed more emotion this game," Maska said. "I think that was a big difference from the first game. We played with more heart, more energy, than we did the first game."