Thursday night's rematch between Hot Springs and Lakeside showed the March 6 result was no anomaly as the Lady Rams rolled to a 6-0 win at Reese Memorial Stadium.
Lakeside (6-4, 4-0 5A/6A-6) again cruised to a 5-0 halftime lead, but Hot Springs (0-7, 0-4) turned up the defense, holding the Lady Rams scoreless in the second half until Sophia Geisleman managed to squeeze off a shot from about 20 yards out with 8:54 remaining. The ball crossed from the right side into the left back corner of the net to set the final and cut the remaining time in half.
As opposed to the first match between the two teams earlier this season, five Lakeside players put the ball in the net.
"That's something that we've been working on," said Lakeside coach Karrie Irwin. "We've put pockets on the goal at our field, and I've challenged them all to start taking shots and be confident and know where it's going and have the idea of 'When I make that shot,' not 'If I make that shot.' They're all taking more shots and feeling better about it and not feeling like they're being a ball hog and giving some other people opportunities as well.
"Some people weren't making as many shots as I'd like them to. Ashley Gayle a couple of times passed off, and I was like, 'You were right there; shoot it.' I know they want to be team players and they want to do well, and sometimes they don't want to be the only one shooting. I'm proud of them. They've been working really well as a team."
Starting off the scoring in the game was Bella Geisleman, Sophia's twin sister. She took advantage of a cross from Taylor Ramirez to put the Lady Rams up, 1-0, with less than 10 minutes off the clock.
Less than nine minutes later, Melissa Perrigo caught a pass from Kiley Hermosillo, sending the ball into the left side of the net past a diving Jennifer Aguilera to make it 2-0.
Perrigo got a piece of the third goal for the Lady Rams as she dished out a pass to freshman Zoe Helton, who got off a shot inside the goal box into the right corner of the net with 18:59 remaining.
Another freshman put the ball in the back of the net as Emillyanna Kejser connected on a pass from Taylor Ramirez to make it 4-0 at the 14:41 mark.
Bella Geisleman picked up her second goal of the night on a shot from the right side of the goal box with 11:57 left in the half.
Lakeside had several other shots on target before the halftime whistle, but the Lady Rams were unable to find the back of the net.
"After watching the first half, we mixed things up a little bit, put some people in different positions, and that really worked well for us," said Hot Springs head coach Heidi Springsteen. "We had to move things around and adapt."
Lakeside had no shortage of shots in the second half, including one just 33 seconds into the half, but Hot Springs' defense "parked the bus" in front of the net, keeping the Lady Rams at bay.
"I told Heidi, 'You need to tell your team how well they played that second half,'" Irwin said. "They parked the bus, and they didn't let us by. We tried everything; we put the starting lineup back in. I told the girls, 'Go in, go hard, get one more shot and let's put the other people in and let's rotate some people in and out.
"They shut us down, but my girls, we showed them some things today to work on. I challenged them to make overlaps and try different skills that they have, and I challenged them today in this game, and it was amazing. They just looked up, made good passes toward gaps. They moved to space. They were trying things that sometimes weren't working. That was probably one of our best games that we learned from. We communicated and moved around, made shots and had confidence. I think that was probably our most confident played game."
Alejandra Clark and Maria Muniz turned up the offensive pressure for the Lady Trojans in the second half, pressing the ball and making clear shots, but Lakeside goalkeeper Jessica Bishop was quick to step in the way and make saves along with a number of Lady Ram defenders.
"They had a good combination with the passing," Springsteen said. "They had some great attacking. It was very encouraging to see."
Springsteen is pleased with the way things are coming together for the team despite its record.
"Everyday it gets better," she said. "Every day we learn more, we adapt more. It's a learning process."
Hot Springs faced Hope (2-6, 2-3) at home Friday night before a home match Tuesday against Class 4A Hamburg (1-6). Lakeside is scheduled to travel to De Queen (6-4, 4-0) Tuesday. The Lady Rams and Lady Leopards are tied in the lead of the conference.Sports on 04/01/2018