Buffs stay in WAC race with 3-1 win over Dodge City
By KEVIN THOMPSON
Garden City High School boys soccer stayed alive and thriving Thursday night with a 3-1 win over league rival Dodge City.
The win kept the Buffaloes (8-2, 4-1 Western Athletic Conference) on pace for a conference title heading into the final weeks of regular-season play.
Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in nearly three weeks, Garden City made the most of home field advantage, though it took a while to get there.
David Amaro got credit for the only goal of the first half in the 22nd minute, a half both he and coach Joaquin Padilla described as lacking in intensity.
The Buffaloes started the second half with a statement shot, though. On a direct kick by Joel Sanchez, Amaro nailed his second goal from the right side of the goal, directly off his head for a 2-0 lead.
But small leads in the WAC are not really safe, and it was too early to celebrate.
Dodge City's goal six minutes later was a ricochet put back by Hector Navarro after Buffalo goalkeeper Carlos Luquin stopped Rene Yeverino's penalty shot.
The only unlucky spot it could bounce to was right to Navarro.
But that was the Red Demons' only goal of the night, and Garden City responded itself six minutes later when David Fuentes knocked it in from 20 yards out for the cushion goal.
The team that showed up in the second half is the team the Buffaloes need to be heading into the end of the season, Amaro said.
"The second half was much better," the sophomore said. "More touching, more playing with the team, more chemistry — it was all good."
Being ahead early in the first half, Padilla said, his team seemed to relax, and that can't happen against any opponent, especially one from the WAC.
Offensively, though none of his leading scorers found the net Thursday, Padilla was pleased that others took their place.
"We have many kids who can score. The others can get assists and open up the field," he said.
Padilla also was pleased with play from both sides of the ball, especially with the defense holding their rivals to just the one rebound goal.
"That's a solid defense. We change (offensive) formations a little bit, but the defense stays the same," he said.
Senior defender Juan Carlos Rodriguez said the team overall — and the defense, specifically — are playing at a level he hasn't seen in his four years.
"We've been working more this year as a team," he said. "This year we started strong and we're working pretty hard as a team."
Their effort against the Red Demons (4-5-1, 1-3-1) was much improved since they played in Dodge City earlier this season, and he sees no reason anything will change with the few remaining games.
"We still have to finish hard," he said.
Their only conference loss was to Liberal, and the Redskins come to town Tuesday in what Amaro calls a revenge-type game, with his team playing at a higher level than they did in the loss.
"We're playing a lot better, more as a team," he said. "We're playing more confident now."
Padilla challenged his team to finish the season hard. If they want to host regional playoff games, they need to keep winning, he told them after the game.
"We're not looking past the Liberal game," he said, "but we know that there are games left after that and they're all important."
Dodge City 0 1 -- 1
Garden City 1 2 -- 3
GC--Amaro, 22nd minute
GC--Amaro from Sanchez, 44th minute
DC--Navarro, 50th minute
GC--Fuentes from Benitez, 56th minute
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