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HHS soccer blanks Great Bend in regional opener




Familiar opponent. Familiar result.

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Familiar opponent. Familiar result.

The Hays High School girls' soccer team made easy work of Great Bend on Tuesday for its third victory over the Panthers this season. The first two games -- a 2-0 win on April 15 and a 5-0 victory on April 28 -- were part of Hays High's run to the Western Athletic Conference crown.

The third game, a 4-0 win, came in the Indians' Class 5A regional semifinal Tuesday at HHS Field.

"Playing a team three times in a season, the third time is always the toughest," Hays High coach Saul Hernandez said. "The first half was kind of tough ... they did well defending and we didn't finish our chances and kind of complicated ourselves. But second half the girls came out with more intensity and we got the goals we needed."

HHS (13-3-1) used three second-half goals to defeat Great Bend (0-17) on Tuesday and advance to Thursday's 5 p.m. regional championship game against visiting Goddard-Eisenhower (12-4-1).

The Indians will be looking for a third consecutive trip to the 5A state quarterfinals, and will have to beat the same team it did a year ago. Hays High and Eisenhower met in the regional championship in 2013, a 2-1 win for the Indians in Hays.

Eisenhower is coming off a 3-0 win over Liberal on Monday in its regional semifinal game, the same score Hays High beat Liberal by on April 24 (HHS also beat Liberal 4-3 in double overtime on April 10).

"I think they are going to want revenge. They are going to be hungry and we need to be ready for that," Hernandez said. "It's going to be an even match. It could be a one goal game and the one that makes the mistake is the one that's going to lose on Thursday."

But on Tuesday against Great Bend, there weren't many mistakes to be had for Hays High. The Indians needed all of 19 seconds to get on the board, a rainbow shot by senior Lacey Pfannenstiel from the top of the goalie box.

Hays High continued to dominate the rest of the half but try as it might couldn't get another shot to find net and settled for a 1-0 halftime lead.

"We were a little bit confused at the beginning but after that goal it really boosted us. The little things we kind of did wrong after that," Indian junior Brooke Russell said. "But after halftime we definitely had that talk and coach explained to us what we needed to do and how to fix it."

Russell gave the Indians a 2-0 lead when she scored off a penalty kick in the game's 48th minute. Barely a minute after that, it was Russell's corner kick that led to a third goal, this time by freshman Talyn Kleweno.

The final goal was scored in the 58th minute by senior Wendy Zimmerman -- who returned to the field for the first time since early in the season after sustaining a foot injury -- again set up by a Russell corner kick.

Hays High outshot Great Bend 22-3.

"It's a great opportunity for us for how young our team is," Russell said of Thursday's regional championship against Eisenhower. "We just have to be positive and our team has to be positive. I think we can do it."

Thursday's game at HHS Field was originally scheduled for 6 p.m., but has been moved up an hour to accommodate for Eisenhower's travel to and from Hays.