A late penalty kick by Hays Thomas More Prep-Marian senior Kayla Vitztum lifted the Hays TMP Monarchs over the Dodge City Red Demons Thursday night by a score of 2-1.
The goal came on a penalty kick with 14:55 left in the second half after a hand ball was called on the Red Demons within the goalie box.
It was the Red Demons third straight loss, but was also a highly-contested one, with both teams getting scoring opportunities throughout both halves.
Head coach Saul Hernandez said there were still some positives to take away from the game for the Red Demons.
“I think we possessed the ball better than we have any game, and we’re starting to look for feeds, their movement’s getting better, our support’s getting better, we had more opportunities on goal than any other game, so there’s a lot of positives that come out from this,” Hernandez said. “That’s sometimes the way soccer goes: The ball just won’t bounce your way sometimes.”
Vitztum ended the game with two goals, having opened the scoring with 33:07 left in the first half to give her team an early 1-0 lead.
“She’s a player that controls the ball close and turns quick and knows what she’s gonna do before she gets the ball, and that makes her a dangerous player,” Hernandez said.
Those things made her difficult to contain, but most of her early runs deep into the Demon defense seemed to have occurred in the first half.
“I think we did a better job of handling her the second half,” Hernandez said.
Another strength for the Red Demons Thursday night was freshman Alicia Solis.
She got the first goal of her high school career Thursday night with 19:32 remaining in the first half, knotting the score at 1-1 at the time.
It was just one of many plays she made throughout the night though. With 16:12 left in the first, she got deep into Monarch territory to the goalkeeper’s left, but having gotten so deep near the the goal line she passed the ball back to another Red Demon who had a better angle and took a shot.
The Monarch goalkeeper made a save, but even as she went down and made it another Red Demon was running behind her in case she had allowed a rebound.
Hernandez said the center-mid’s are making runs and passing progressively better as well.
“The center-mid’s have been doing a better job finding the outsides, the outsides are making more runs and we’re doing a great job getting to the final third (of the field),” Hernandez said. “Once we get to the final third, that’s where we need a little bit of improvement on but that’s why we practice. We can work on it and improve throughout the season.
The loss sent the Red Demons to 2-5 overall this season. Hernandez said they are working to just take it one step at a time.
“We’ve got two conference games next week and that’s gonna be our focus, taking one game at a time,” Hernandez said. “I think if we keep on doing the small things correctly we’ll eventually start clicking and we’ll get it put together.”