Hays High School soccer coach Jim Maska is still looking for a complete performance from his young team, but Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Great Bend at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex was a sizable step in the right direction.
In the teams’ previous meeting this season, a 3-2 Panthers win in extra time, Maska saw his team play a strong second half, erasing a 2-0 halftime deficit to force overtime. Tuesday’s performance was an improvement in both effort and result.
“I’ll say we played 60 minutes,” Maska said. “We still gotta get 80 minutes, but we played a solid 60 minutes.”
The Nunnery brothers helped the Indians get out to an early lead. In the fourth minute, Isaiah, a senior, played a long diagonal ball towards the middle of the box. Ethan, a sophomore, was the first to the ball and beat the keeper. Three minutes later, William Martin doubled the Indians’ lead as he outworked a Panther defender, won the ball and found the back of the net.
Sophomore Zachary Wagner added his name to the score sheet in impressive fashion in the 20th minute. Wagner settled the ball and fired a curved shot that bent in the top corner of the goal from nearly 25 yards out.
“He’s only a sophomore, but Zach’s got the capabilities, especially with the wind at his back, of hitting that shot,” Maska said.
One of the Indians’ few let downs came nine minutes before halftime. The Hays High defense failed to clear the ball, and Great Bend’s Erick Martinez ended up with possession and a clear path to goal. Martinez finished the breakthrough with a goal that left Indians goalie Conner Staab helpless.
Staab and the back four in front of him has struggled to withstand persistent pressure, but Tuesday the young unit stood up to the Panther attack without conceding in the second half.
“That’s where we’re having some issues,” Maska said. “Today, I put in about three different players at stopper, and all of those stood up and played well.”
Jacob Maska tallied the lone goal on the second half after he was tripped while making a run through the box. Maska, a freshman, calmly passed the ensuing penalty kick into the back of the net.
HHS is at Buhler on Thursday.