Focus is on first place
Lions back on track, eye second straight NEKSL championship
An early non-conference loss to Mill Valley last year was the spark the Lansing High girls needed to run the table in the Northeast Kansas Soccer League.
This time, an early slip against De Soto cost Lansing a chance to go undefeated again in league play. A perfect record may be out of the question, but opponents would be mistaken if they believe that has the caused the Lions' spirit to waver.
"We're not sweeping the league any more, so that's no longer an issue," LHS coach Rob Elkins said. "The pressure is off. People were putting pressure on you saying 'Oh, you did it last year. Are you going to do it again this year?' Well, not this year. But we're still going to try to win league."
Lansing's response to the loss certainly indicates it plans to remain in the hunt for the NEKSL crown. It posted back-to-back shutouts in non-league contests as it beat Topeka-Cair Paravel 2-0 on Monday and then hammered Gardner-Edgerton 4-0 on Tuesday.
"We're pushing forward," junior defender Abby Hauver said. "(We want) another league championship, hopefully."
The most obvious improvement the Lions have made since their loss Thursday has been on the defensive end. The defensive unit of senior Lindsay Parks and juniors Elizabeth Cristiano, Michaela Bristow and Hauver has been more fluid and communicated better. That much was evident when Gardner didn't have a single clear look at the goal Tuesday.
Elkins said the defense looked better because its technique improved.
"You learn from your mistakes," he said. "When a player makes a mistake technique-wise, they know it right away. That just goes to the back of their mind and they say 'Okay, I just need to calm down and focus, and everything will work out.'"
The Lions (4-1-1 overall, 2-1 NEKSL) still need to improve their shooting technique, Elkins said. They had numerous open looks at the goal on Monday and Tuesday, but most of their shots sailed high above the crossbar. That also boils down to focus, Elkins said.
Lansing returns to league play at 4 p.m. today when it travels to Kansas City Christian. KCC traditionally is one of the strongest teams in the league.
"I haven't really heard anything about them this year," Hauver said, "but we're just going to go out and play our hardest regardless."
LIONS RANKED NO. 10
The LHS girls cracked the state rankings this week when they entered the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association poll at No. 10 in Class 5-1A. The No. 1-ranked team in the nation, St. Thomas Aquinas, owns the top spot.
JV GIRLS HANG ON
Junior Heidi Schultz buried a goal early in the second half that gave the junior varsity girls a 1-0 victory over Gardner Tuesday. LHS is 3-1-1 this year.