An 8-1 loss at home isn't pretty, but Lawrence High soccer coach Keith Nelson knows his team played better than the score indicated.
If the Lions thought as well as they played, they might have come a little closer to beating Olathe East at the Youth Sports Inc. fields on Tuesday.
"It was not a matter of not playing hard or being outplayed," Nelson said. "It was just a matter of making some mental mistakes at key times and the other team was good and savvy enough to score goals on our mistakes. That's what good teams do."
The Lions (2-12-1) were outscored by seven goals and trailed by at least two for 72 of the game's 80 minutes. Lawrence never stopped attacking, though, forcing Olathe East to keep falling back on defense.
It was the Lions' mental breakdowns that allowed the Hawks to attack quickly and effectively. Olathe East pounced on nearly every mistake and missed opportunity by Lawrence, scoring on many of them.
"Any time you possess the ball and have chances against a team that good, you know you have the ability to score," Nelson said.
"But we also know that we have to play 80 minutes of quality of soccer, and that's what we're going to do."
Olathe East scored three times in the first 15 minutes, capped by the first of Ali Dorri's three goals.
Josh Yurek scored Lawrence's goal just less than five minutes later, perfectly chipping the ball over the Hawks' sliding goalkeeper.
Garret Jones capitalized on a Lions mental mistake 12 seconds later, scoring before Lawrence could completely stop celebrating Yurek's goal.
Olathe East added four more goals in the second half, completing the rout.
Although the Lions suffered their eighth loss by four goals or more, Nelson said there were still some good aspects from Tuesday he could use to help the team in its final regular season game Thursday at Olathe North, and at next week's regionals.
"We can take some good things but we also know we have to learn from our mistakes," Nelson said.
"We're not going to change anything. It's too late in the season to change anything. I think we've got good players and we've got guys who work hard, it's just a matter of working on those mental mistakes."