3rd time a charmer for Lady Buffs soccer
By KEVIN THOMPSON
By KEVIN THOMPSON
Three times this season Garden City has faced Dodge City on the soccer pitch.
It's either been too windy or too cold. Monday it was too hot.
But a 4-0 win in the first round of the playoffs feels just right.
The Garden City soccer team scored three goals late in the first half to put away the Lady Red Demons early at Buffalo Stadium.
That sets up a regional championship showdown in Manhattan on Thursday. They will play the Manhattan-Wichita East winner at 6 p.m.
The Lady Buffs improved to 11-6-0 while Dodge City's season ended at 7-10-0.
For the Lady Buffs, it's just enough time to savor the win before getting back to business.
Evelyn Rodriguez got the Buffs on the board off a corner kick, using her right foot in front of the net for an easy goal in the 28th minute.
Eight minutes later, Megan Martinez scored the first of her two goals, dribbling solo from midfield, splitting two defenders for an open goal after goal keeper Andrea Estrada committed a different direction.
Tiffany Butler followed that up with her own left-footed goal after cutting back through a defender two minutes before break.
Martinez added a second solo goal four minutes into the second half to put the Buffs ahead comfortably.
"The first goal, just knowing we were up ahead, I think woke all the girls up," Rodriguez said. "That's probably the third corner kick I've scored. We practiced that yesterday. I guess practice makes perfect, right?"
Rodriguez said the Buffs were looking to open up the field more, a strategy that worked well in this game.
"We looked to find that open gap and attack the goal. It took a while, but we controlled the ball," she said. "It helped opening up the field."
Martinez said her team outplayed the odds by being so dominant in the heat.
"And being against our rivals, at home — that just pushed us even more," she said.
Garden City had lost by a goal and won by a goal in their two previous meetings. Rodriguez said this time was very different.
"We had better ball movement and I think we came together more as a team. You need teamwork, especially against a team like Dodge," she said.
When they lost at Dodge, she added, her team didn't seem to be really into the game then. This was a different story. Rodriguez's goal boosted the Buffs' confidence.
"That really helped a lot. And being off a corner kick, which is something we've really worked on, also boosted our confidence even more," she said.
Once she scored the fourth goal, Rodriguez said the substitutions were easier to make, and the breaks were a welcome relief.
Coach Joaquin Padilla said the attack mode took a little while to get going, but midway into the first half, things started clicking, leading to the first goal, a momentum changer.
"They know how we're going to play and we know how they're going to play," he said. "It was just a matter of who was going to execute better."
That would be his Buffs, but scoring goals has been tough of late, which is why they practiced corner kicks.
"Once we got the first goal, we got a little more confident," Padilla said. "It gave us a little cushion and we started playing differently."
Facing Manhattan on Thursday will be a challenge for his team, Padilla said, but all he can do is ask them to play their best.
"We've been there before. They have the skills. From east to west, there seems to be a gap, and we have been trying to close that gap," he said. "But with this group, if they want it and they want to play the way we've been playing, I think we can surprise them."
"It'll be a fun time, for sure," she said.
Garden City 4, Dodge City 0
Dodge City 0 0 -- 0
Garden City 3 1 -- 4
GC--Evelyn Rodriguez, 28th minute
GC--Megan Martinez, 36th minute
GC--Tiffany Butler, 38th minute
GC--M. Martinez, 44th minute
Goal keepers--DC (Andrea Estrada), GC (Ashlee Richman, Evanni Servantez). Shots on goal--DC 11, GC 6.
Saves--DC 1, GC 7.