GARDEN CITY — The Thomas More-Prep Monarchs lost their second straight game Tuesday, falling to the Garden City Buffaloes, 3-2, in Garden City.
“We had great heart. I was really, really happy with the way we played,” TMP coach Shea Koerner said. “The last time we played them this close was five years ago, my first year here. (A) 3-2 loss, not the best outcome we are looking for, but we're happy with it. We’ll take it and we’ll find what we need to fix.”
The Class 6A Buffs came into the match undefeated and fresh off a Goddard Invitational title.
“We always talk about how it feels like a David versus Goliath kinda matchup when we have to play these 6A schools,” Koerner said.
But the Monarchs kept Tuesday’s matchup close, despite the Buffs attack early and often.
Garden City maintained steady pressure on the Monarch defense during the first half. That consistent high pressure on the Monarchs back line paid off in the 17th minute, when senior forward Htoo Htoo scored his first three of three goals.
A defensive mishap from the Monarch defense in the 24th minute gave Htoo his second goal of the game, doubling the Buffalo lead to 2-0.
Not all was lost in the first half for TMP, as the Monarchs pulled one back when senior Ryan Karlin scored with 35 seconds left.
The third goal for the Buffaloes came in the 52nd minute, when Htoo converted on a rebound for his second hat trick of the season and his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
Almost immediately after Htoo’s goal, TMP responded with a 52nd-minute goal of their own. The Buffs couldn't clear the ball from their own box, and Monarch senior captain Logan Shaw scored on a rebound from a run that started all the way from the TMP backfield.
“That run was fantastic, I know one of our guys kind of shielded so he could get in there and get that shot,” Koerner said of Shaw’s highlight finish.
Koerner was also impressed with Shaw’s ball placement for the assist during the Monarch’s first goal.
“(Shaw’s) pass in that final 30 seconds of the first half was also fantastic,” he said. “We've been talking about, if you're not going to beat them, maybe look for that early ball. And he laid it off to Ryan perfectly, so we could walk it in.
“Logan has been our leading scorer this season. I think that was his fifth goal. He’s just doing fantastic.”
Although the Monarchs were able to make things a bit more interesting in the second half, in the end Garden City had a clear advantage in possession and ball movement, which prevented TMP from creating any chances and kept the ball outside of Garden City’s defensive third.
Koerner knows that’s what his team needs to work for the next game.
“Touching, passing and control of the midfield,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors that are on this team that know how to control the ball, but knowing when you need to control and actually controlling are two different things.”
That next game for the Monarchs will be Tuesday when they host the St. John’s Military Muleskinners, scheduled to kickoff at 5:30 p.m.