By BRETT MARSHALL
In more ways than one, Tuesday's final regular-season home game for the Garden City Buffaloes will be one to remember.
Not only did the Buffs register their biggest offensive output of the year in a 9-0 triumph over Hays High at Buffalo Stadium, but they also clinched no worse than a tie with Dodge City for the Western Athletic Conference championship.
Throw in a hat trick plus one by junior Eric Barragan, two goals by Sebastian Kyaw and a fan-favorite 35-yard goal by Ismael Hernandez, and there were many things for the memory book.
And that's not all.
Barragan, who has established himself as one of the premier players in Kansas, set a GCHS school record for most goals in a single season with 24. That eclipsed the 1999 record of 23 set by Enselmo Enriquez, who ironically is now one of the assistant coaches for the Buffs.
With the win, the Buffs closed out their regular season on Senior Night, recognizing the six seniors on the team at halftime — Jose Guevara, Luis Guzman, David Fuentes, Victor Herrada, Jose Ruitiga and Hernandez.
It was certainly a far cry from the game between the two WAC schools only seven days earlier in Hays, when the Buffs, in the middle of three games in three days, managed a 2-0 squeaker.
For Hernandez, the goal was only his second of the season, but it was the kind of goal he had been planning and hoping for all season. He serves double duty at GCHS as the football team's placekicker for field goals and extra points. His goal, which came in the 53rd minute, provided the Buffs with a 5-0 lead after they had dominated the first half with a 4-0 outburst.
"I've been waiting for that a long time," Hernandez said of his goal. "I try to do what I can to help the team out, but I've never kicked one that far in soccer. I just wish the football guys could have seen it, too."
It was Fuentes who got the rout off to a scintillating start when he dribbled it in from the 10-yard line and sent it past Hays' goalkeeper, Sheldon Sulzman, in the fourth minute of the game.
Then it was Kyaw's turn for scoring as he took a cross from Fuentes in the center of the goal box and drilled it past Sulzman for a 2-0 lead in the ninth minute. Kyaw tacked on his second goal with an assist from Guzman, who centered it from the left side of the box, coming in the 17th minute.
"I didn't expect anything like that (two goals)," Kyaw said. "Right now, I think we're playing our best, so we just want to keep it going."
Barragan, silent for much of the first half, got his first score on an unassisted play where he broke through from the outside center of the box, dribbled through a pair of Indians' defenders and knocked it in with his left foot. That came in the 31st minute, and ended the opening half scoring.
"This feels amazing and I've been able to do this only with the help of my teammates," Barragan said of his scoring record. "David Amaro (who assisted on a second-half goal) has been one of the guys I've played with all my life, and he's a big reason for what I can do."
The victory pushed the Buffs' season record to 12-4-0, and sets them up for a home game on Tuesday in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs. The game will be at 5 p.m. at Buffalo Stadium, but the Buffs' opponent has yet to be determined.
After Hernandez scored the first goal of the second half for the Buffs, Barragan went to work — getting the next three goals — the first on Amaro's assist in the 57th minute, the next on a breakaway in the 61st minute and his fourth and record-setting goal was on a spectacular bicycle kick from the left edge of the goal box in the 65th minute. Herrada closed out the scoring with a penalty kick goal in the 66th minute.
Hays had 12 shots against Buffs' goalkeeper, Isreal Reyes, and he made five saves in net. Garden pummeled Sulzman with 20 shots, and he managed six saves.
While the Buffs (12-4 overall, 7-1 in the WAC) get seven days off after playing a murderous six games in eight days (5 wins, 1 loss), Hays returns to the pitch on Thursday to play TMP-Marian, its cross-town rival. The Indians saw their record fall to 5-10 overall and 1-7 in the WAC.
GCHS coach Joaquin Padilla said his team could use the down time to recover and get ready for the postseason.
"We've got a few injuries and we just need to rest up a little bit for next week," Padilla said. "We've been playing good and I just hope that we keep playing like that. We'll keep practicing and just want to keep this momentum going."
Hays High 0 0 -- 0
Garden City 4 5 -- 9
GC--David Fuentes, unassisted, 4th minute.
GC--Sebastian Kyaw, Fuentes assist, 9th minute.
GC--Kyaw, Jose Guzman assist, 17th minute.
GC--Eric Barragan, unassisted, 31st minute.
GC--Ismael Hernandez, unassisted, 53rd minute.
GC--Barragan, David Amaro assist, 57th minute.
GC--Barragan, unassisted, 61st minute.
GC--Barragan, unassisted, 65th minute.
GC--Victor Herrada, penalty kick, 66th minute.
Shots--Hays High 12, Garden City 20. Saves--Hays (Shelton Sulzman 6), Garden City (Isreal Reyes 5). Corner kicks--Hays 5, Garden City 3. Penalties--Hays (Riley Zimmerman, yellow card, 14th minute, pushing.
Coming off their recent Western Athletic Conference championship on Saturday, the Garden City Lady Buffaloes' volleyball team closed out its regular season on Tuesday with a road victory over Maize South, claiming the best-of-5 dual match by scores of 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23.
The triumph puts the Lady Buffs at 24-11 for the season and a likely No. 1 overall seed in Saturday's Class 6A sub-state at Hutchinson, in which eight teams are divided into two four-team sub-states. Should they garner the No. 1 seed, they will face the No. 8 seed, and then would face the winner of the No. 4 vs. 5 seed match with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
"We played tired, like we had been on the bus for four hours," said GCHS coach Shandra Sanders of the nearly 200-mile trip that was not on the team's original schedule. "It took awhile to get going. We took some risks in the way we played some things tonight, and it took some time to get comfortable with those things. Those are things that should help us on Saturday."
Jaymie Bernbeck and Taylor Linenberger led the team in kills with 10, while Jacksenie Torner and Erin Kuneyl were the assist leaders with 22 and 16, respectively. Bernbeck had three aces, while Jamie St. Clair and Taryn Tempel paced the digs category with 20 and 15.
"It was nice to see somebody different who's usually pretty good," Sanders said.
The remaining schools assigned to the Garden City sub-state are Dodge City, Haysville-Campus, Hutchinson, Maize High, Wichita North, Wichita Northwest and Wichita South.
The Class 6A state tournament is scheduled for Nov. 1 and 2 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.