By KLINT SPILLER
Special to The Telegram
HAYS — If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
That mantra worked for the Garden City High School boys' soccer team Tuesday at Hays.
The Buffaloes fell behind 1-0 early and remained behind for nearly 70 minutes, despite out shooting Hays High 22 to 9 in the match.
However, Garden City sophomore Erik Barragan played the hero, scoring two goals in the final seven minutes to rescue his team from defeat and win 2-1.
Hays High dropped to 5-7-2 and 3-4-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy match, because they were going to come hard at us," Barragan said.
The match didn't impact Garden City's league title hopes — the Buffaloes (11-2, 7-1 WAC) had clinched that Thursday against Great Bend — but it did keep the team's momentum moving forward and could help with its regional seeding.
"We really needed it for seeding to get regionals at home instead of having to travel to other places," Barragan said. "It was really important for us."
The game featured a strong north-south wind, and Garden City played with the wind at its back in the first half.
Hays High jumped ahead in the fourth minute when junior forward Shawn Herrman took the ball from near midfield and out ran Garden City's defense, chipping the ball above senior goalkeeper Carlos Luquin's head to put the Indians up 1-0.
The Buffaloes attempted to use the wind in their favor, taking long shots, but many of their shots were off or went directly to Hays High goalkeeper Josh Johnson.
"I think they had maybe half the shots we had, but we just didn't make them," Garden City head coach Joaquin Padilla said.
Garden City kept plugging away into the second half, but Hays High denied the Buffaloes' attack again and again.
"They were just defending," Barragan said. "They had at least five defenders, and we had bad shots. We had really bad shots."
Surprisingly, the Buffaloes actually created better chances against the wind, using its fluid passes to get behind Hays High's defense.
Finally, Barragan received a flick pass from senior Joel Sanchez, and Barragan, attacking from the left of goal, buried his shot to the right of the goalkeeper in the 73rd minute to tie it.
Two minutes later, Barragan did it again, but this time, he collected his own rebound and then kicked it to the right of Johnson.
"I saw the goalie in the middle, so I tried to get it to the left, but he got there," Barragan said. "I just kept running at it and kicked it to the right."
Padilla said Tuesday's win should help his team's confidence heading into the final stretch.
"Who we've played and who we've beat has brought them confidence," he said. "Being behind 1-0 for almost 70 minutes with 10 minutes to go and being able to tie it shows they work at it and didn't lose focus. They were able to win it."
The Buffs will compete Thursday and Saturday in the Wichita North Cup. They face TMP-Marian
Garden City 0 2 — 2
Hays High 1 0 -- 1
Hays High — Herrman, 4th minute.
Garden City — Barragan, 73rd minute (Sanchez).
Garden City — Barragan, 75th minute.
Goalkeepers — Luquin, Garden City; J. Johnson, Hays High. Saves — Luquin 6, J. Johnson 11.