Lawrence High's girls soccer opener was worth the wait.
More than four weeks after its first practice and two weeks after its original opener was rained out, LHS made its debut Thursday with a 1-0 Sunflower League victory over Shawnee Mission West at Youth Sports Inc. fields.
"I think Shawnee Mission West was the better team in the first half, but I think we showed our character and outplayed them in the second half," said first-year LHS girls head coach Keith Nelson, who treated his team to ice cream following the win. "I think we were anxious and I think we were nervous because I introduced so many new things to them and they were questioning whether they could go out and succeed. Hey, they did it."
Tied at 0-0 at halftime, LHS (1-0) struck early in the second half when junior Bliss Lemmon connected on a corner kick in the 42nd minute for the winning goal.
"There was a little bit of luck," Lemmon said. "It went off the head of one of their girls and in the goal."
Lemmon believes the win could set the tone for the rest of the 16-game season.
"We're playing better right now than we ever played last year," Lemmon said. "We have a lot more confidence."
The Vikings (0-2) threatened four times after Lemmon's goal. Two shots sailed over the LHS goal, one went wide left and Lion senior goalie Tayler Guntert snuffed a penetration by SM West midfielder Kim Peters.
"We've been waiting for this game," Guntert said. "We got our first-game jitters out. Getting a win was really exciting."
SM West outshot LHS, 13-9. The LHS defenders thwarted several other Viking surges.
"We're trying a new defense," Guntert said. "I've been really busy back there in the past, but our defense is working a lot in practice on what they're supposed to do and controlling the ball more and not letting many balls get through."
LHS sophomore Aly Barland said the Lions capitalized on the extra practice time.
"We had more time to get ready and it paid off," Barland said. "I think we have a good chance and making a name for ourselves."
Nelson relished the victory over the school from Johnson County, considered a hotbed for girls soccer.
"Beating Shawnee Mission schools I don't care which one it is is a great victory," Nelson said. "I told the girls before the game. Take shots and they'll go in. It's a wet field, the keeper's a freshman and any chance you get you have to take shots on goal."
Next for LHS is a Tuesday game at defending Class 6A state champion Shawnee Mission East.