By BRETT MARSHALL
The Garden City Buffaloes' boys soccer team moved into Saturday's championship game of the Wichita North Cup with a 3-1 victory Wednesday night over Wichita Trinity Academy.
The Buffs secured their spot in the title game behind the goals of junior Eric Barragan, who scored twice and then assisted David Fuentes on the final goal of the contest.
"They're playing the best soccer of the season that I've seen over the past four games," said GCHS coach Joaquin Padilla.
Barragan got the Buffs on the board first when he scored with an assist by Sebastian Kyaw in the 28th minute. The Knights tied the score with a late goal in the first half with just 40 seconds left before intermission, when Cael Burke scored on a rebound shot to make it 1-all at the break.
In the second half, the Buffs were the dominant team, scoring twice. The first came when Barragan secured a pass from Ismael Hernandez and the ball was cleared and misplayed by Trinity and Barragan walked the ball in for the score. That came in the 68th minute and proved to be the game-winner. Fuentes got his goal with Barragan's assist in the 75th minute.
The Buffs finished with 11 shots to Trinity's five. GCHS goalkeeper Israel Reyes had three saves.
"We're still giving up some shots, but defensively we're playing solid," Padilla said. "We keep making changes with our lineup depending on what the other team does, and its been working for us."
It has been a remarkable three days for the Buffs, having won their tournament opener in Wichita on Monday, traveling to Hays on Tuesday for a 2-0 victory over the Indians in WAC play and then back to Wichita for the Wednesday semifinal.
"It was a lot of effort, and I'm proud of them," Padilla said.
The Buffs are now 10-3 overall and will await the winner of tonight's other semifinal contest between Berean Academy and Wichita East. Saturday's championship game will be played at 3 p.m. at North High School. Following the Saturday game, the Buffs will return home on Monday to host TMP-Marian at 5 p.m. at Buffalo Stadium and then on Tuesday close out the regular season with a home game against Hays High.
The Garden City High School girls tennis will send one doubles team and one singles players to the Class 6A state tournament, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday at the Maize South High School courts.
Junior Claire Schmidt and sophomore Shai Cartmill teamed up to claim the regional championship on Saturday, playing on their home courts at the GCHS Tennis Complex.
The duo, playing together in their first season, have compiled a 29-8 record and their seed will be determined at the coach's seeding meeting earlier in the morning. That will then determine their first-round opponent.
Also qualifying for coach Rod Robinson's Lady Buffs was senior Jannette Martinez by placing fourth in her competition. She will take a 24-13 record into the state tournament.
Depending upon how the players fare on Friday, they will either be playing at 9 a.m. Saturday or heading home.
Area girls: Greeley County's Bailey Harris was the lone area tennis player to earn a spot in the Class 3-2-1A state tournament at Pratt.
Harris, a junior, owns a 23-9 season record and was the fourth-place finisher in the Cimarron regional on Saturday.