Lawrence High goalkeepers Julio Salazar and Tanner Click were lucky to have each other Tuesday night.
LHS’s C-Team goalie, Jeff Mekus, was lucky to have them both.
Otherwise, the brunt of the Lawrence High boys soccer team’s 8-1 loss to Olathe South would have fallen on the shoulders of one of the three netminders. As it turned out Salazar and Click, who played hurt, each played a half and Mekus, who was on hand as an emergency reserve, was spared of having to go in at all.
While they were in there, Salazar and Click did their best to keep LHS close, coming up with nearly a dozen big-time saves between them, but the Falcons simply had too much offense for the stops to matter.
“We’re not happy with the 8-1 score at all,” Click said. “But it could have been worse.”
Seven different Falcons accounted for the eight Olathe South goals, including freshman Clay Stewart, who scored twice. Most of the goals — other than a penalty kick by Chris Ploch at the 30-minute mark of the second half — came as a result of fast runs and perfect passes through the heart of the Lions’ defense.
“It was the same thing over and over,” LHS coach Matt Anderson said. “Our upperclassmen need to understand that that’s something they need to recognize in the first two or three minutes of the game, not at halftime. Our assignments were brutal. We have a hard time understanding that the ball is where we need to be.”
That was not a problem for Salazar and Click, who came face-to-face with the ball throughout the night.
The Lions trailed 5-0 at the break and lost the second half, 3-1. That, in itself, would not have been cause for celebration if it wasn’t attached to an overall better effort and the first goal from the LHS offense in the last four games.
LHS senior Kodi Masarik scored the Lions’ lone goal midway through the second half.
“In the first half our defense was kind of lazy,” Salazar said. “But I thought we played better in the second in the second half. We kept trying.”
Unfortunately for the Lions, however, their effort or the number of their goalkeeper mattered very little, as the Falcons dominated from start to finish and handed LHS its fourth straight loss. The Lions (2-6-1) are winless in their last five games. They left the field Tuesday looking for answers but encouraged by the fact that they kept fighting to the end.
“Timing is everything,” Anderson said. “And right now we’re on the back end of some bad timing.”
Added Click, who is expected to return to his regular role as the starting goalie for the junior varsity later in the week: “They’re really good and they move the ball around well in the scoring third. We just have to forget the score and learn from our mistakes.”
The Lions will play at Topeka High on Saturday.