Over at the Lawrence High bench and postgame huddle, the players continually barked the word “swag” as if it were the new team slogan.
After Tuesday night’s 5-0 home victory against Junction City (3-12-2), LHS (7-7-3) is now through to the next round in the Class 6A regional tournament. The players’ muse for this game was, in a word, “swag.”
“We like to play with swag, and lots of it,” senior Chandler Thomann said.
The final score looks nice, but the first half lacked any kind of swagger from LHS.
The Lions, who beat the Blue Jays by the same score last month, scored first with a goal from senior Adrian Rivera three minutes into the game.
Afterward, coach Mike Murphy said his team got complacent, and the ball movement, focus and effort all started to fade. Junior Robert Lyan scored with five minutes left to go in the half, and the Lions went in at break with a 2-0 lead.
It was a lead, but not one that was comfortable enough for the team to go cold.
“At halftime, coach let us know that wouldn’t be acceptable,” Thomann said.
Murphy wanted the game to be like the last match-up against Junction City, where the team was consistent. The Lions made up for it in the final 30 minutes.
“I was really challenging them to come out in the second half and do a better job,” Murphy said. “And they did.”
Junior Gavin Fischer assisted on Lyan’s second goal of the night at the 28:13 mark.
Up by three, the Lions played keep-away and the Blue Jays didn’t get many shot opportunities in the second half, or much of the game for that matter. Senior goalie Tanner Click had a couple saves, but didn’t get much of a workout. He was replaced by junior Jeff Mekus with 17:24 to go, and that was the beginning of Murphy giving his substitutions plenty of playing time.
That tactic paid immediate dividends when senior Robbie Andrews, who was called up from JV for this game, scored LHS’s fourth goal.
As time was winding down, the Lions still attacked and the one that went in came from Thomann, capping the 5-0 night.
The Lions knew immediately after the game who their next opponent would be. As LHS poured it on Junction City Tuesday, Lawrence Free State took care of Topeka High, 2-0, setting up a regional match-up of the cross-town rivals.
Murphy is glad he got most of his team into the mix last night so they could be prepared when it visits Free State at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“Everybody got out there, got good minutes and contributed to the win so that makes me feel good,” Murphy said. “They should be ready to go Thursday.”
For the players, the game plan against the Firebirds is simple. It’s only one word, after all.
“Swag is the definition of everything,” Thomann said. “If you’ve got swag, you’re scoring goals.”