By ADAM HOLT
For 34 minutes, the Garden City High School boys soccer team was trailing a Thomas More Prep-Marian squad it defeated by eight goals a month ago.
A sloppy first half gave way to a more focused second, though, and the Buffaloes rebounded with four goals in the final 32 minutes to beat the Monarchs 4-1 Wednesday.
The game, part of the consolation bracket of the North Cup, was moved from Wichita to Memorial Stadium in Garden City, as it made more sense for both teams travel-wise.
GCHS head coach Joaquin Padilla said the Buffs were overconfident after winning a 10-2 game over the Monarchs in September at Buffalo Stadium, and it showed in the lackadaisical first half.
"The thing about, when you beat somebody 9-1 or whatever, and then you think you're gonna do the same thing next time — it doesn't happen that way," he said. "Every game is different. You don't score nine; the next time you might not score nine, you might get scored on first — like they did, they scored on us first."
GCHS was down 1-0 early, but came out and tied the game early in the second, and unsurprisingly, it was sophomore Erik Barragan who got the game-winner.
Garden City came out aggressive in the second half, attacking up the wings and sending through balls up the middle. Barragan sliced up the center of the field and took a long pass, poking it just out of the reach of TMP goalkeeper Collan Lawson from about nine yards out, getting just enough on the ball to get it into the goal and give Garden City a 2-1 lead.
The comeback wasn't much of a surprise to TMP coach Shawn Lawson.
"I even told my team at half, one goal's not enough," he said. "These guys are going to wake up. They need this win. They're not going to let us walk out of here without putting some goals on us."
Early on, though, the Buffs looked disinterested in the game. Their passes weren't crisp, and some bad plays on balls in the air in their own zone gave the Monarchs a number of chances offensively. Emblematic of the first-half play was GCHS goalkeeper Carlos Luquin punting a ball into the back of one of his defenders, giving TMP a shot off the rebound and forcing the keeper to scramble back to cover the goal and make the save.
Soon after, the Monarchs drew a foul outside the box, and Carlos Duenes' free kick beat Luquin cleanly from 23 yards out and gave TMP a surprising 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.
"The touches, we had problems with first touch, holding the ball too long," Padilla said. "But I think once we adjusted and became more self-controlled, I think that it (was better)."
Garden City spent the rest of the first half misfiring on both shots and passes, and went into the break down by a goal.
It didn't take long for the Buffs to reassert themselves in the second half though. David Amaro took a pass up the middle in the TMP zone and fired a high shot to tie the game at 1 in the 48th minute.
Garden City continued to pressure TMP, with Win Ko just putting a ball over on a cross from Jeremy Cruz in the 58th, before Barragan gave the Buffs the lead. Joel Sanchez fired a free kick at the edge of the 18 over in the 64th, and Cruz just missed a shot wide three minutes later.
Esteban Neave got a tap-in goal on a pass from Cruz in the 68th, and Cruz himself scored, threading a ball in from the end line in the 76th.
With the win, Garden City is 12-2 this season. The Buffs play Berean Academy at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Wichita North High School, in the North Cup fifth-place game.
Padilla said GCHS will be fine as long as it plays 80 minutes of high-intensity soccer. And finishing the regular season strong will be important if the Buffs want to set themselves up for a postseason run.
They know what's at stake," Padilla said. "Right now, we hope to host the regional games here. In order to do that, we have to keep the record that we have, finish hopefully 14-2, that would give us home advantage for maybe three games. It was a good win."
Garden City 0 4 -- 4
TMP 1 0 -- 1
TMP--Duenes, 14th minute
GCHS--Amaro, 48th minute
GCHS--Barragan, 61st minute
GCHS--Neave, 68th minute
GCHS--Cruz, 76th minute
Goalkeepers--C. Lawson, TMP;¬ Luquin, GCHS. Saves--Lawson 6, Luquin 6.