By J. LEVI BURNFIN
It wasn't until six minutes were left in the match that Great Bend was able to break through for a goal.
By then, it was too late, the Garden City High School soccer team had dominated for 70 minutes, scoring four goals and creating several other chances in a 4-1 win over the Western Athletic Conference rival Panthers.
"I thought we probably played one of the best games we have played all year," head coach Joaquin Padilla said.
Starting the first period against the 25 to 40 mph wind, the Buffs (5-1, 7-3) still dominated play, possessing the ball in the Panthers' half of the field for much of the 40 minutes. In the 16th minute, after several scoring chances went wanting, the Buffs broke through for a goal as junior forward Esteban Neave dribbled down the left side and found sliding senior midfielder David Fuentes with a low cross as he put it in the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead.
The Buffs threatened a few more times in the first half but couldn't break through, going into halftime with the one-goal lead.
"It was a big boost for us to know that we could go in (at halftime with the lead)," Fuentes said about holding the lead at half despite having to fight the wind. "We did the hard work, we got a goal off of it and now we can just go into the second half and just play soccer with the wind in our favor."
With the wind at their back in the second half, the Buffs switched from a conservative 4-5-1 format they played in the first to a more aggressive 4-4-2 to open up the field.
It worked, as the Buffs found the back of the net three more times. The first came as Fuentes broke through the middle and hit a strike to the right post to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute. Sebastian Kyaw added another just seven minutes later and junior midfielder David Amaro found junior forward Eric Barragan with a long cross left to take the commanding 4-0 lead with only 14 minutes left.
The Panthers' lone score came in the 74th minute as Garden City misplayed its own free kick and left the Panthers with numbers going the other way. Panthers senior forward Michael Prieto sent a beautiful chip into the box near the left post from 25 yards out and senior forward Joaquin Garcia headed it in to get to the final 4-1 margin.
However, the Panthers chances were few and far between, as they were outshot 27-5 in the match. The Panthers only real threat in the first half came in the 10th minute as Garcia took a shot from 15 yards out but Buffs goalkeeper Isreal Reyes made a diving save, one of his three in the game. With 10 minutes to play and the 4-0 lead, Reyes was pulled in favor of sophomore Saul Gonzalez.
The Buffs had several chances, though, sending a pair of rebound shots over the crossbar and hitting the side posts a couple of more times.
"Now we've just got to keep winning to win the conference," Fuentes said about sweeping the two-match season series against Great Bend.
The Buffs leave conference play for a few days next week as they will compete in the North Cup hosted by Wichita North starting Monday. It will conclude on Oct. 19.
The Buffs begin tournament play on Monday, at the Wichita soccer complex at 1000 W. 25th street, against Wichita North. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday games will be played at North High School. The Monday and Thursday games will take place at the soccer complex.
Great Bend 0 1 -- 1
Garden City 1 3 -- 4
GC--David Fuentes, assisted by Esteban Neave, 16th minute
GC--David Fuentes, unassisted, 47th minute
GC--Sebastin Kyaw, unassisted, 54th minute
GC--Eric Barragan, assisted by David Amaro, 66th minute
GB--Joaquin Garcia, assisted by Michael Prieto, 74th minute