After a hard foul committed by Allen Community College, Myu Kobayashi of the Hesston College women’s soccer team stepped up to take a free kick. The ball was positioned on the edge of the middle third of the field and the attacking third for the Larks and based on the considerable distance between the ball and the goal the Allen defenders opted to cover Kobayashi’s teammates rather than obstruct a long shot on goal.
Clearly, Allen CC did not know about Myu Kobayashi.
Not a second after the whistle blew Kobayashi charged at the ball and kicked it high into the air towards the goal. An audible groan came from the home crowd as they, with Allen’s goalkeeper, assumed the ball would sail out of bounds.
“A wasted opportunity,” whispered a bystander. But no sooner had they said this then the ball had taken a sudden dive to the earth, too sudden for Allen’s keeper to react before it landed perfectly into the left corner of the net. The goal sent the fans into a shocked frenzy and ended up propelling Hesston to a 3-1 victory over the Devils.
Hesston coach Bryan Kehr is hoping that long arc is a good metaphor for his team’s results to finish the season. At 6-7 and 5-4 in district play, the Larks need to improve in order to make the playoffs, and Kehr is cautiously optimistic.
“Playing in the post-season this year is still a reasonable goal,” said Kehr, “We will just need to keep improving to reach that goal.” Kehr pointed out that totaling last season’s win total of seven is still their current goal.
“We have a wonderful group of young women on campus this fall and we have good team chemistry. Our defensive back four are very strong and we are getting great leadership from captains Mariah Martin, Alyssa Newswanger, and Tori Wheeler,” Kehr continued. Kobayashi, who Kehr pointed out as another key to their success, is their leading goal scorer.
But the Larks have lost their last three games and gave failed to score a goal during that time frame. According to Kehr, this offensive ineptitude is going to have to be solved for the Larks to reach their goals.
“We need to finish better around the goal, and be more aggressive offensively. We are scoring more than last season, but we need to continue improving.”
Defense is where this season’s Larks are really shining compared to last year when they gave up an average of over three goals per game on defense. This season Hesston has cut that average to 1.6 goals surrendered per game, an averaged slightly skewed by a 5-0 loss to Hutchinson CC. That improved defense is critical to the Larks’ chances at a post-season appearance.
“The last four weeks of season should be fun to watch” concluded Kehr.
If Hesston College continues to make strides on offense and be stingy on defense, then the veteran coach should right about that.