The Hays High soccer team shouldn't be lacking for depth or versatility in the 2019 season. 

The Indians return a core group off last year’s state quarterfinal team while adding a promising group of newcomers into the fold. 

Hays High kicked off a season of high expectations on Saturday against crosstown rival Thomas More Prep-Marian, taking a 7-1 win on Saturday at HHS Field. 

“It was really encouraging to have a lot of players come off the bench and almost keep the same level of play, which is a great thing for a coach to have,” Hays High coach Silas Hibbs said. “I was pleased that the girls didn’t let up. We got better today. We tried some girls in different positions all over the field. It was good to kind of see some new looks.”

The Indians return six players that received postseason honors from last year’s 11-7-1 team — seniors Kallie Leiker, Savannah Schneider, Cori Isbell, Hannah McGuire and juniors Isabel Robben and Judith Isbell. 

“A lot of our returners have been in my system for three years, which is great,” Hibbs said. “On top of that, the girls coming in that played for the Hays Soccer Club and the middle school, they came in at a really high level as well. Kudos to those coaches that got them ready.”

Hays High freshman Taleia McCrae scored the first goal about 13 minutes into the game and the Indians followed with a goal from sophomore Caroline Robben about five minutes later. 

Schneider extended the lead to 3-0 with 20 minutes left in the half before sophomore Maggie Robben converted on a penalty kick. Freshman Jersey Johnson and sophomore Allison Shubert each scored in the last three minutes of the half to give the Indians a 6-0 lead at the break. 

Kaylee Hernandez put TMP on the board early in the second half before Johnson scored again for the final goal of the game. 

Hibbs said the Indians will have the luxury of moving players around to different positions. 

“It’s priceless,” Hibbs said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to get the girls comfortable with a variety of spots so we can throw our opponents a variety of looks. It makes defending against pretty hard.

“I’m encouraged. A good, hard battle on TMP’s end; they put one in second half on us. It was fun.”

First-year TMP coach Racheal Hamel said her young team took a step forward in the second half. 

“When we went into half, I told them that I didn’t really care how the first half went, I just wanted to pretty much prove that we’re a team to be reckoned with, even through we are young and inexperienced,” Hamel said. “They definitely showed me a lot of great things that half.”

Like the Indians, the Monarchs (0-3) were also a state quarterfinal team last year but graduated several standout players off that team, including Kayla Vitztum, Ashley Ostrander and Aubrey Koenigsman. Ten of the 17 players on TMP’s roster are underclassmen. 

“I really try not to get super frustrated with them when we don’t see the exact outcome that we want,” Hamel said. “Granted we’ve lost these games, but we’ve seen so many good things and we’re starting to see girls play positions that they probably never thought they would play before. They’re willing to step up and work hard for their teammates.”

Hays High will open the McPherson Invitational against Salina South on Tuesday. TMP will be on the road Monday against Wichita Word of Life. 

Hays High 7, TMP-Marian 1

TMP-Marian 0 1 — 1

Hays High 6 1 — 7

TMP-Marian — Goal: Hernandez. 

Hays High — Goals: Johnson 2, M. Robben, C. Robben, McCrae, Schneider, Shubert. Assists: Johnson 2, Martin. 

Records — TMP-Marian 0-3, Hays High 1-0.