With a mix of experienced players and underclassmen, much of the 2019 season has been a learning and feeling-out process for the Hays High girls soccer team.
But the Indians have adapted to the learning curve and found success, sitting 10-1-4 with one game left in the regular season.
Still, HHS coach Silas Hibbs believes the Indians’ best soccer could be ahead of them with Class 5A regionals approaching next week.
“We have a lot of talented girls on our team,” Hibbs said. “As a coach you try and make it as fair as possible and give them, throughout the season, different opportunities to prove themselves. I feel like now, as we go into this last week, we’re kind of finding that lineup that’s the most versatile. We haven’t shown anybody our best look yet, and I think when it matters, we will.”
The Indians celebrated senior day with a 5-0 win over Nickerson on Tuesday at FHSU Soccer Stadium in rainy and cold conditions. Kallie Leiker, Sophie Humphrey, Taleia McCrae, Savannah Schneider and Maggie Robben each scored a goal, while Schneider and Robben had two assists apiece.
“The girls are starting to see the fluid motion of the game,” Hibbs said. “A lot of people don’t understand why I play a lot of girls in various positions. The fact of the matter is you don’t understand the game from just one position. You have to have a multi-perspective view of the game to understand and be a multi-dimensional player.
“This was the first time we had our full lineup and fulfilled our obligations. The girls played and passed the ball well; we had some great overlaps. We were a little bit more aggressive. I’m proud of the way the girls played.”
The game was moved to the turf field at FHSU Soccer Stadium due to the wet conditions.
“I few of our WAC coaches mentioned to me, ‘You guys look a lot better on turf,’ ” Hibbs said. “Unfortunately we play on a grass field which isn’t super smooth. I think we play a lot better on turf. We’re a fast team and I think we’re a little bit quicker on turf. It suits our style of play a little better.”
The Indians honored their five-player senior class of Leiker, Schneider, Cori Isbell, Hannah McGuire and Julie Vallejo.
“I couldn’t be more proud of all our seniors,” Hibbs said. “They’re so talented, not only on the soccer field, but they’re also great students and just great girls in the community. … This is a very special senior class and a very special team.”
Hibbs said the Indians are still working their way back to full strength. Schneider missed the bulk of the season with an ankle injury she is still recovering from.
“Health wise, we’re about 90 percent there,” Hibbs said. “[Schneider] is still a little bit injured. Kamree Leiker is still a little bit injured. At this point of the season, we’re thankful to have both of them back, even at 80 or 90 percent. They’ll only get stronger and more confident as they play a few more games.”
The Indians will close the regular season on Thursday at Wichita Trinity.