By BRETT MARSHALL
The Garden City High School boys' soccer team opened its 2013 season on a successful note on Monday with a 6-3 victory over Maize in the first round of the Wichita South Titan Classic.
The Buffaloes led 4-1 at halftime and added two insurance goals in the second half to notch their opening triumph.
Junior Eric Barragan, last year's leading goal scorer, picked up where he left off in 2012 by scoring three of the goals for coach Joaquin Padilla's squad.
The remaining three goals came from David Amaro, Esteban Neave and Gilberto Tovar.
Barragan scored in the 8th minute for a 1-0 Garden City lead before Maize tied it with a goal in the 12th minute. Barragan scored his second goal, with a second assist from Amaro, in the 19th minute before Tovar and Amaro added goals in the 36th and 38th minutes to produce that 4-1 lead at intermission.
"I think we got a little lazy, maybe a little overconfident at halftime," GCHS coach Joaquin Padilla said. "We told them the game was not over."
The Eagles produced two goals early in the second half, in the 48th and 58th minutes, to close the deficit to 4-3. But the Buffs responded in the closing minutes with two more goals, one by Neave in the 65th minute and the final by Barragan in the 77th minute. Both were unassisted.
With the win, the Buffs advance to the semifinals of the Blue Bracket and now will face Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Wichita South's East field. A victory puts the Buffs into Saturday's championship game, which would be played at 3 p.m., while a loss would drop them into the third place contest at 1 p.m.
Goalkeeper Israel Reyes produced six saves for the Buffs as Garden City out-shot Maize 12-8.
"The first half is an indication of how good the kids can play," Padilla said. "We have a whole new back four, and our strength is our forwards and mid-fielders. I thought Israel was awesome, and he made some good saves. Our defense is young, and we have some things to work on over the next couple of days."
Following the Titan Classic, the Buffs are idle until Sept. 17, when they travel to Hays to face the Thomas More Prep Monarchs. Their home opener is set for Sept. 19 against Liberal in what will be their Western Athletic Conference opening game, where they will begin defense of their 2012 league title.
Garden City 4 2 -- 6
Maize High 1 2 -- 3
GC--Eric Barragan, assist David Amaro, 8th minute
M--Unknown, 12th minute
GC--Barragan, assist Amaro, 19th minute
GC--Gilberto Tovar, unassisted, 36th minute
GC--Amaro, penalty kick, 38th minute
M--Unknown, 48th minute
M--Unknown, 58th minute
GC--Esteban Neave, unassisted, 65th minute
GC--Barragan, unassisted, 77th minute
Goalkeeper--GC (Israel Reyes 6 saves). Shots--Garden City 12, Maize 8.