Maybe Lawrence High’s Parker Davies was due some good fortune.
After sitting out most of the last three weeks with an ankle injury, the Lawrence High senior knocked in a deflected goal that put Thursday’s game out of reach, as the Lions took a 2-0 victory over crosstown rival Free State in front of an overflow crowd at LHS.
“I meant to shoot it, so I wouldn’t call it lucky,” Davies said. “But it’s better to be lucky than good, so I’ll take it.”
With LHS leading 1-0 in the 43rd minute, Davies had a volley come back to him near the top of the box. The midfielder immediately sent a shot back in that ricocheted off the leg of a Free State defender.
The spinner couldn’t have been placed any better, as it lofted over the head of Free State goalie Tyler Bryant and ducked under the crossbar into the left side of the net.
“It was just a damn good shot. That’s pretty much it,” LHS forward Ian Gabel said. “Probably a little bit of luck, but we’ll take it.”
Davies didn’t enjoy the moment alone.
The senior sprinted — with teammates trailing him — all the way past midfield before coming to a brief stop in front of his LHS classmates in the bleachers.
“Our student section was loud the whole game,” Davies said with a smile, “so I figured they might as well get to celebrate a little bit with me.”
Davies had been worked back into the rotation slowly over the last week before regaining the starting nod on Thursday. LHS coach Mike Murphy said the Lions “weren’t the same team” over the past few weeks without their captain.
“I thought he looked great,” Murphy said.
LHS continued a recent pattern of improving its play in the second half. Though the Lions dominated possession early and outshot the Firebirds, 9-1, in the opening 40 minutes, the game remained tied, 0-0, at the break.
Gabel finally broke through for LHS in the 41st minute. After receiving a cross from Connor Henrichs, Gabel sidestepped a defender before powering the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
In their last four games, the Lions have scored just one first-half goal compared to 11 second-half tallies.
“We knew that if we stayed with it and stayed with it,” Murphy said, “good things would come.”
Free State (3-5-1) had its best offensive chance late. In the 79th minute, Will Laufer sent a pass forward to Buzz Walter, but his shot was deflected by charging LHS keeper Andrew Ornburn.
The Firebirds were outshot, 15-10, and also trailed in shots on goal, 9-4.
“We’re back to struggling again with scoring goals,” FSHS coach Kelly Barah said. “We do a great job of knocking the ball around. We still need to find a way to knock the ball into the back of the net.”
The LHS students were quick to celebrate the win, counting down the final five seconds of the game before rushing the field to congratulate the Lions.
Davies said later it was his team’s best game of the season.
“(Free State) played us hard, and it’s always like that,” Davies said. “Winning against a good team like just makes it feel even better.”