As a result of a late-season surge, the Hays High School girls’ soccer team hosted a first-round Class 4-1A South Central Regional No. 2 match Tuesday at HHS field. On paper, it looked like a favorable matchup as the team the sixth-seeded Indians hosted was just 4-11.
However, Wichita-Trinity Academy, the No. 11 seed, was the defending 4-1A girls’ champion. The Indians’ youth and inexperience was no match for the experience of the Knights, and it was apparent in a 4-1 loss.
Brooke Russell, the Indians only senior and most experienced player, was sidelined after breaking her wrist in a late-season game.
“They are a good team. Their record is very, very deceiving,” Indians coach Jim Maska said.
It looked as if HHS had an upset in mind early as sophomore Lanie Schmidt scored the first goal of the game in the 12th minute.
The Knights quickly answered, though, with a goal of their own in the 13th to even the game. Then, the Knights scored three more times in the first on their way to the 4-1 lead.
“They were winning 50/50 balls. They were excited about playing in the rain. Their energy level was high.” Maska said. “Ours was good for the first 10 minutes and then after that, it didn’t seem like we wanted to be out there.”
The weather at game time seemed more fitting for a football playoff game rather than a soccer regional match. The game time temperature was in the mid 40s with the wind chill in the 30s. The cold weather and constant rain made navigating the field difficult for both teams.
The Knights appeared to revel in the bad field conditions. The visitors smiled, laughed and joked with each other and some of their fans throughout the match.
“We can’t use that as an excuse. It goes both ways.” Maska said. “They played through the conditions as well. Their energy level was three times as high as ours, I thought.”
The Indians finished the first regular reason under Maska with a 7-8-1 record, but the coach believes the young team made progress.
“I thought the second half of the season we did (make) progress.” Maska said. “We played smarter and played more as a team in the second half of our season. If you look at our overall record and what we did, we did progress.”
With Russell injured, the Indians didn’t start a single senior the last two games of the regular season and the regional match.
“We have a lot of young girls. We had two or three juniors out there and one senior, and everyone else were sophomores or freshmen.” Maska said, “If the younger kids step up and really work in the off season, I think the future could be really good here.”
Trinity faces third-seeded Winfield at 6 p.m. Thursday in Winfield.