By BRETT MARSHALL
If you weren't there in time for the start of Tuesday's Class 6A regional first-round boys soccer game between Garden City and Wichita Southeast at Buffalo Stadium, then you were just too late.
The Buffs, the No. 1 seed in the South Central Sectional, wasted little time in making sure the Golden Buffaloes were not going to have a "golden" moment on the Buffs' home turf.
The 7-1 result was all taken care of in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Senior Diego Benitez got things off to a quick start for the Buffs when he took a cross from Jeremy Cruz and drilled it in from in front of the goal box in the fourth minute.
"The plan was just to put the ball behind the net and see if we could get goals," Benitez said of the team's quick start. "We really didn't know anything about them, but we try to treat each team as if they're a really good team so we are prepared."
Then came a barrage of scoring that put the game away.
Sophomore Erik Barragan tallied the next two goals, both on assists from Benitez. Benitez provided him with the pass and then Barragan dribbled in to the front of the goal box and then booted it in over a diving Southeast goalkeeper Clint Gouldner. That came in the eighth minute.
"We're just looking forward to Thursday now," Benitez said of the upcoming second round game. "We'll just work on the game plan and come ready to play."
Barragan's second goal came in the 13th minute when he received a through ball from Benitez and rifled that one in. Emilio Castillo made it 4-0 in the 17th minute on an unassisted breakaway when he took it from the 25-yard line and got it past Gouldner.
The first half scoring concluded in the 19th minute when Joel Sanchez booted the ball in from the right side 25-yard line that just eluded the outstretched arms of Gouldner.
Both GCHS coach Joaquin Padilla and Southeast coach coach Tom Noonan substituted liberally over the final 20 minutes of the first half, but for different reasons. While it gave Padilla a chance to get reserves into the lineup, Noonan took his starters out and brought them off the pitch. He spent nearly 5 minutes in explaining what he wanted his team to do.
"That's what we need to do is to get off to a fast start and don't give them any breathing space," Padilla said of the early onslaught by the Buffs. "I thought our defense was solid and we worked on playing the ball. We were able to get a lot of kids into the game and play about 20 minutes that normally don't get a chance to play."
In the second half, Southeast finally got on the board when Alex Garza somehow bounced the ball over the head of backup goalkeeper Cesar Solorzano in the 43rd minute. But the Buffs' Sanchez answered back just three and a half minutes later when he beat Gouldner at the left side of the goal box and just squeezed the ball in the right side of the goal post. Benitez added another goal in the 61st minute when he beat Gouldner on the right side of the goal box and nailed it.
For now, it's one step further along the way to what this group of seniors, 16 in all, have worked diligently for in their final season of playing together.
"It's the teamwork that's come together," Benitez said. "We've been playing together for a while and this year we have a lot of talent with the seniors and we're getting a lot of help from the sophomores. We just have to keep staying focused on what we do well."
The victory moves the Buffs into the second round at 6 p.m. on Thursday against Derby, a 3-0 winner on Tuesday against Hutchinson. That game will be at Buffalo Stadium. The Buffs are now 15-2-0 while Southeast finishes its season at 4-13-0. Derby, the No. 6 overall seed, is 12-5-0.
Wichita SE 0 1 -- 1
Garden City 5 2 -- 7
GC--Diego Benitez, assist Jeremy Cruz, 4th minute.
GC--Erik Barragan, assist Diego Benitez, 8th minute.
GC--Erik Barragan, assist Diego Benitez, 13th minute.
GC--Emilio Castillo, unassisted, 17th minute.
GC--Joel Sanchez, unassisged, 19th minute.
WSE--Alex Garza, unassisted, 43rd minute.
GC--Joel Sanchez, unassisted, 59th minute.
GC--Diego Benitez, unassisted, 60th minute.
Shots--Wichita SE 6, Garden City 18. Goalkeepers--Wichita SE (Clint Gouldner), Garden City (Carlos Loquin, Cesar Solorzano). Saves--Gouldner 5, Loquin 0, Solorzano 0. Corner kicks--Southeast 0, Garden City 2. Cautions--None. Offsides--Southeast 0, Garden City 3.