By Moses Leos III
A masterful performance from goalkeeper Maya Erwin couldn’t give the Lehman Lady Lobos the upper hand in Friday’s match for fourth place in district with the Austin Maroons.
An unlucky carom off an Austin High player hindered Lehman in a 1-0 loss at House Park.
Lehman, which dropped to fifth place in district, is now on the brink of missing the playoffs. Lehman must win its final two games, and have Austin lose both of its games or tie.
Withstanding Austin High’s unrelenting offense was the challenge for Lehman. The Maroons dictated the tempo, constantly attacking the Lady Lobo defense.
Austin High was led by forward Meredith Curran, who facilitated many of Austin’s offensive chances.
As Austin pressed the attack, Lehman was forced to defend in its end. As a result, Lehman struggled to get numbers forward and combine for counter-attacks.
It also left ample space in the midfield for Austin to regroup and attack. Troubles in clearing the ball also played a factor.
“You keep the ball there, and you have trouble getting it out of there, you give them a lot of chances, and something’s going to happen,” head coach Nauri Garcia said.
But Lehman goalkeeper Maya Erwin proved the stopping point. With every shot she gathered, swatted away or dove for, Erwin helped Lehman withstand the storm to keep the game scoreless at halftime.
As the Maroons kept up their pace, Lehman began to combine in the midfield. Lady Lobo forwards and midfielders organized several runs into the Austin zone.
But the Maroons became the benefactors of Lehman’s struggle to get out of their end. Following an Austin run into the 18-yard box, a Lehman defender’s clearance was driven into the face of an Austin player.
The resulting carom bounced back into the box, and beyond Erwin’s reach. She blamed miscommunication on her part for the miscue.
“It was just unlucky,” Erwin said. “I should have come out on it.”
The Lady Lobos worked to score the equalizer in the final 15 minutes. Their frenetic pace led to an increase in physicality and intensity; it also garnered several chances for Lehman.
Their best opportunity came with less than three minutes to go. A precise corner kick from Neftali Mercado soared to Brittany Avona, who missed heading in an equalizer.
Despite the loss, Garcia was proud of his team’s effort. It comes after the Lady Lobos played three games in a five day span.
“Our girls played well today,” Garcia said. “It’s heartbreaking that it ends with us not being able to put (the ball) in the back of the net. That’s soccer.”