An older, more experienced Dodge City High School boys soccer team spoiled Hays High’s home opener, claiming a 4-0 league win on Thursday at Indian field.

The host Indians returned just two players who were in starting roles previously, and inexperienced players took the field against the more physical Red Demons.

“Dodge City’s a good team,” Hays High coach Silas Hibbs said. “We’re a younger team. We’re getting better, which is important.”

The visitors dominated possession in the first half, but the Hays High defense allowed only one goal, in the 16th minute. Junior Alan Lopez took a long ball on the run, and surrounded by three Indian defenders, beat HHS senior goalkeeper Tucker Johnson inside the far post.

“I thought we did a good job keeping them off the board in the first half,” Hibbs said. “I thought Tucker Johnson did a good job in goal for us.”

Dodge City coach Saul Hernandez, a former HHS assistant and head coach, said his side was disappointed in not being able to finish on numerous scoring opportunities in the first 40 minutes, when the Red Demons played against the wind.

“It is frustrating, I know the kids were frustrated,” Hernandez said. “We’ve got to keep on grinding.”

The Red Demons added three goals in the second half. Junior Erik Martinez scored from the top of the box off a pass from senior Jesus Sanchez to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute. Junior Carlos Rayon Lopez scored on a rebound in the box in the 50th, and senior Merevdi Nkongolo finished the scoring with a goal in the 74th.

“Second half, we had the wind,” Hernandez said. “We could take more accurate shots outside the box, unlike the first half. That opened up the game more for us.”

Johnson recorded nine saves while Dodge City junior keeper Christopher Velez stopped one for the clean sheet.

Hibbs was pleased that his team continued to play hard for the entire game.

“All you can do is give your best effort,” Hibbs said. “It’s a test of your character. I couldn’t be more pleased that they battled. They didn’t give up.”

Hernandez said it is easier coming back to Hays for a match now that players he coached have since graduated.

“I have a lot of good memories on this field,” Hernandez said. “We were crowned WAC champions when I was here as head coach.”

Dodge City improved to 5-2 overall and evened its Western Athletic Conference record at 1-1. Hays High dropped to 2-6 and 0-4.