LHS holds off Bonner in season-opening victory
Robinson’s goal 1:49 in sets tone in 2-0 win
With six new starters and only senior goalkeeper Alex Burton remaining in the same position, the Lansing High boys soccer team entered its season-opener Friday evening against Bonner Springs with lots of unanswered questions.
Where would the offense come from?
How would the defense perform?
Would the position changes made by numerous players pay off?
The Lions answered most of those questions as they collected a hard-fought 2-0 victory.
Senior midfielder Josh Robinson netted the game-winner just 1:49 into the game. Senior Tylor McNeill added an insurance goal in the 44th minute. Burton collected eight saves - most of them in the second half - and earned the shutout.
"The team we played was a good, solid team that could have won this game, and it was just good that things went our way and we did what we had to do to put the ball in the net," LHS coach Randy Brown said.
Lansing (1-0 overall, 1-0 Kaw Valley League) took advantage of its scoring opportunities in the first half, and that set the tone for a solid first 40 minutes. Robinson's goal in the early minutes came off a beautiful pass from senior Stepan Herout. Herout flicked the ball off the end line to Robinson who one-touched it past the keeper inside the near post.
"That was the best start we could have hoped for," Robinson said of the early goal.
The quick strike appeared to calm the Lions' nerves and they were in control for the rest of the half.
The starting defensive line of Mo Meyer, Drew Reynolds and Hawkins Hall played tough and limited the Braves' scoring chances. Midfielders Nate Markovetz, Clayton Hall, Kyle Buehler and Robinson controlled the field. Forwards Andy Dick, McNeill and Herout made aggressive runs on offense. The reserves stepped in and brought instant energy to the field while maintaining the quality of play.
Given how well Lansing played in the first half, McNeill's goal just before halftime looked like it might be the knockout punch.
Then the second half rolled around and the tide turned. Lansing showed some early-season rust and Bonner cranked up the intensity. The Braves dominated the field in the final 40 minutes, but they were unable to slip any shots past Burton. Time and again the All-State goalkeeper showed why he's one of Kansas' best as he made diving saves and took the ball off opposing forwards' feet to preserve the shutout.
"The first 40 minutes we were playing," Brown said. "The second 40 minutes we were just hanging on, and we're not going to be able to go the whole season if all we're doing in the second half is just hanging on. But it's the first game, the first result, and the guys now have an idea of what they have to be able to do to win the game."
Although the Lions were lacking in skill in the second half, they never were short on effort. At times they may have been too aggressive as they piled up fouls, but their intensity - and Burton's gritty play - allowed them to keep the Braves at bay.
"Heart is something we're certainly not lacking," Burton said. "That's good, because we can always build off that."
Lansing will look to build off Friday's performance this week as it prepares for its 6 p.m. Thursday contest at home against Mill Valley. The Jaguars handed the Lions their only league loss in 2005.
LANSING JV FALLS TO BONNER
Depth is a luxury the Lansing High junior varsity boys soccer team won't have this fall, and the Lions got their first tast of life with a small roster Friday afternoon against the Bonner Springs Braves.
LHS played with just 12 players in uniform. That meant it had only one substitute. The lack of depth combined with 90-plus-degree heat combined to be too much for the Lions to handle against a sure-footed and fast Braves squad in a 5-1 defeat.
Lansing played a tough first half and limited Bonner's scoring chances. In fact, the game was scoreless at halftime.
Everything changed in the second half, however. Bonner scored less than three minutes into the half on a breakaway. The Braves scored again 70 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead. Lansing sophomore Matt Robbins fended off a defender and scored midway through the half to make it 2-1, but that was as close as the Lions would get. The Braves found the back of the net three more times in the final 15 minutes.