Indian defense fuels win over Central
By AUSTIN COLBERT
There is a reason the Hays High School girls' soccer team recorded seven shutouts over its final nine games -- exceptional defense.
This might seem like the most obvious of answers, but two plays stood out in Hays High's 1-0 win over Salina Central on senior day Thursday at HHS Field, plays that only really good teams make when the stakes are the highest.
Plays like the one senior defender Reagan Kaiser made when sophomore goalie Brittany Dinkel -- who had just made a key stop of her own -- was suddenly completely out of position to prevent an easy goal by the Mustangs. Only it didn't go in, because Kaiser simply wasn't going to let it.
"The save from Reagan off the line -- she is one of the few that stayed on the ball and she got the save," Hays High coach Saul Hernandez said. "To me that's as big as a goal. And Dinkel's save there at the end of the game, too, that's as good as a goal as well. I'm really proud of them and they worked hard and got the shutout that they deserved."
Kaiser's key save occurred with less than two minutes remaining in the first half when the game was still scoreless. Dinkel, who finished with four saves, made her best save of the night in a high-effort block with less than six minutes to play in the game, the Indians clinging to a 1-0 lead.
"Brittany does a good job and Reagan does a good job and that's what keeps us together," freshman forward Talyn Kleweno said. "I feel like if we didn't have them then I don't know what the outcome would be."
It was Kleweno's goal less than two minutes into the second half that gave the Indians the victory. When Kleweno's first shot bounced off Central goalie Bailey Driver, she followed it up with another shot from just inside the goalie box that soared perfectly over the outstretched hands of Driver and into the net.
"Like I told our girls at halftime, I thought they were anticipating a little better than we were," Central coach Dave Ouderkirk said. "I thought we had two or three really good opportunities, but when you don't put them in and leave it up to the one goal situation -- Hays got one that they needed and that was the winner."
Central (2-13-1), which has been crippled by injuries all season and is just now getting back to full strength, was outshot by only one in the first half, 5-4.
But Hays High dominated the second half, outside of a few windows of opportunity for the Mustangs.
The Indians outshot Central 8-1 in the second half and 13-5 for the game.
"I felt like when we got that goal we just wanted to get more and I could tell the other team was slowing down a little. They were still keeping up but I could tell they were a little down," Kleweno said.
"Central, they are a good team. I don't think their record shows maybe how hard they've played."
Hays High finished its regular season with a 12-3-1 record and will now await its postseason fate. The Indians expect to be either a two or three seed in their Class 5A regional and will host their first round game on Tuesday at HHS Field.