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HHS soccer falls

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

It was the smallest of details that made the difference in Liberal's 3-0 win over the Hays High School boys' soccer team on Thursday.

"We let the little things get into our heads, like little nudges, the offside calls," Hays High coach Saul Hernandez said. "I don't think our forwards were working as hard as they have been."

Two late first-half goals by Liberal (6-4) were the difference in a game evenly played for most of the contest. The loss ended a three-game win streak by Hays High (5-5) and drops the Indians to 1-3 in WAC play and effectively out of conference title contention.

"Coaches reminded us (after the game) and said that even though WAC is over, we can look forward to regionals," Hays High junior Nathan Romme said. "I felt like we just weren't ready for competition like this, because Liberal is pretty good."

Hays High played against a strong breeze in the first half and was hoping to get into the break without allowing a goal. But with less than 11 minutes to play in the first half, Liberal's Jason Rios snuck one past Indian goalkeeper Sheldon Sulzman to give the Redskins a 1-0 lead.

Sulzman had been stellar up to that point. The senior, coming off his first career shutout on Tuesday against Junction City, had three saves in the first four minutes of Thursday's game and made a diving save on a Liberal penalty kick in the 12th minute.

All it took was one small lapse by the Indian defense to undo all that work. Liberal found the goal again with just over seven minutes to play in the first half, this time from freshman Eliel Gonzalez. A perfect pass from fellow freshman Jonathan DelVal led to the goal and the 2-0 halftime lead for Liberal.

"After Sheldon's penalty kick save, I thought that was going to bring their confidence down and we were going to start playing better," Hernandez said. "We didn't step to the shots. It's something we have been working on in practice -- stepping up and blocking the shots. We didn't do that and we paid for it. They finished their chances."

Hays High still had plenty of life in the second half, even after a couple of near-goals by Liberal in the opening minutes. It wasn't until a second goal by Rios late in the match the wind finally came out of the Indian sails.

"The second (goal) was a killer," Romme said, "but we weren't really worried coming into the second half until that third goal went in. Then I felt like we put our heads down."

In five losses for Hays High this season, the Indians have managed to score only one combined goal.

Hays High will travel to Dodge City on Oct. 8 for a 4 p.m. rematch of its 5-0 home loss to the Red Demons on Sept. 19.