Try as it might, Lawrence High’s boys soccer team just can’t find a way to get a good meal.
Held scoreless yet again in a 2-0 loss to Shawnee Mission East on Tuesday at LHS, the Lions have managed to score just 14 goals in 13 games.
The reasons for the team’s offensive shortcomings are many. Lack of experience, lack of confidence and disorganized attacks all have contributed to the Lions’ being shut out six times this season.
But coach Matt Anderson said one of the biggest factors in his team’s struggle to score has been the absence of that one player who can get the ball on his foot and create a goal on his own.
“If we just had that one true scorer, that would change everything,” Anderson said. “It’s like putting bacon on a salad.”
As it played out Tuesday, the Lions had little more than iceberg lettuce and croutons on their plates, as they failed to capitalize on a handful of outstanding chances and saw SM East score two goals late in the second half to earn the victory.
For much of the contest, the Lions were the more aggressive team. Showing more comfort in its newly installed 4-1-4-1 formation, LHS mounted several attacks throughout the first and second half, but could not find a way to put the ball in the net.
“The formation doesn’t matter if you don’t execute it,” Anderson said. “We worked what we wanted to brilliantly for about 10 minutes in the second half, working the ball up the field on the wings. Then we just completely went away from it. That’s kind of been our modus operandi lately. It’s just a matter of us maintaining our focus for the entire time.”
As late as the 19-minute mark of the second half, the Lions maintained control of the contest. With 19:23 to play, junior Gustavo Arroyo dribbled hard to the 18-yard mark and lifted a low shot toward the net. The shot had little chance to slip past the SME goalkeeper but signified one thing: The Lions were dictating the pace of play. Even the balls that SM East cleared went right to the feet of the LHS attackers, who quickly gained control and mounted another attack. Again, everything was there but the finish.
“Really, it just comes down to us needing to work our butts off to get a goal,” senior captain Will Burg said. “We have to sprint for every ball and play hard every minute if we want good things to happen.”
Three minutes after Arroyo’s shot, the tide completely changed, and the Lions were caught in one of those crippling mental lapses.
A harmless throw-in deep in the LHS end found its way to the middle, where East’s Spencer Barnhill took one step and rocked a missile into the upper-left-hand corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Instantly, the momentum shifted to the East sideline, and the field tilted in the Lancers’ favor the rest of the way.
“We’ve kind of had a problem with that,” Burg said.
Added Anderson: “That is deflating, especially in this sport. We’re averaging a little over a goal a game, and when someone scores on us, it just makes it seem like it’s going to be that much more difficult to get a goal.”
East added another goal at the 7:14 mark on a well executed free kick from CC Creidenberg that was headed in by Zach Colby, and the Lions were forced to play for pride the rest of the way.
“We are getting better,” Anderson said. “It’s just not enough at a time.”
The Lions (3-9-1) will host SM South at 7 p.m. Thursday.