After all the chances Lawrence High had to score on Shawnee Mission West on Tuesday night, a tie wasn’t the ideal way to end the game.
The Lions and Vikings finished with a 1-1 soccer tie after two scoreless overtimes. But by the number of quality shots it had, LHS felt it should have dominated its Senior Night.
“I don’t question the effort from these guys,” LHS coach Mike Murphy said. “All we can do is keep working at it. We can’t let it shake our confidence, even if we’ve had a difficult time scoring all year.”
It has been like this all season for the Lions (5-7-3). Their defense has been superb, holding most teams to zero or one goal, but the offense hasn’t been able to complement it.
The Vikings scored midway through the first half, and senior Zach Wustefeld responded a few minutes later with a goal that deflected off the goal post into the net.
With the game tied in the second half, the Lions had great scoring opportunities when they had the ball in an open-net situation, a one-on-one with the goalie and three players attacking at the same time. Senior Chandler Thomann and Wustefeld led the assault.
Junior Justin Riley said he couldn’t pinpoint the problem, as frustrating as it is for him and the other players.
He said, this is the type of game the team needs to win.
“I don’t know if it’s a mental block that we can’t put it in because it’s a golden goal — if you win you go on,” he said.
Murphy’s theory was similar — that LHS can’t escape a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
“When you’ve had a tough season scoring goals, then you’re the guy with the ball on your foot, you feel the weight of the team on your shoulders,” he said.
With the team struggling to score, the Lions aren’t too worried about the playoffs. There is one game left in the regular season, and the good thing about soccer, Murphy said, is that everyone makes the playoffs. All that matters is what you do when you get there.
The Lions are going to be underdogs throughout the tournament, and that’s just fine with Riley, who said he loves sneaking up on teams.
“We’ve done that a lot this year, like with Shawnee Mission Northwest,” he said. “They didn’t expect anything from us, and we tied them. They were No. 1 at the time.”
As good as it feels being the David among Goliaths, the Lions ultimately want to earn respect.
“Maybe one year they won’t think of us as underdogs anymore,” Riley said.
The last regular-season game for LHS will be 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Shawnee Heights.