Nearly eliminated from playoff contention a month ago, the Garden City Broncbusters men’s soccer team bullied its way into the Region VI tournament by winning the final four matches of the regular season.
But it was the Busters’ season-long Achilles’ heel that ultimately doomed them in Thursday’s first round regional loss at Kansas City, Kan., 4-0 — they surrendered a draw-breaking goal off a corner kick in the 18th minute, with Guilherme Grave scoring for the Blue Devils.
Despite keeping a clean sheet the rest of the first half, the Busters couldn’t find an equalizer, and then the Blue Devils scored two in a matter of three minutes early in the second half, and the Busters’ fate was sealed.
“We made two defensive mistakes early in the second half, and all of a sudden the game is over,” GCCC head coach Scott Westbrook said. “There was 30 minutes left, and we played a two-man back just to get guys up, and they scored their fourth (goal).”
The loss ends the Busters’ season at 7-10 overall. The Blue Devils advance to take on Cloud County on Sunday, with a Plains District berth on the line.
After allowing the early corner kick goal to KCK, Westbrook thought the Busters played better.
“It took us about 10, 15 minutes, but we settled in and played a pretty good first half,” he said. “At the time, to be honest, our opponent wasn’t much more than a kick and run team.”
But Ricardo Angelo and Reed Axthelm made it 3-0 with 52nd and 54th minute goals, respectively, and the Blue Devils were in full control.
“They looked much better in the second half,” Westbrook said, “but the score is not reflective of things. We were just as competitive as they are. It just wasn’t our night. If we played again, I think we’d have a better outing.”
But the Busters won’t get another chance, as Westbrook’s first season at the helm came to an end.
“As you reflect on the entire season, these guys stepped up to the plate,” he said of his team. “They worked hard.”
They began the season 3-9 before the winning streak to end the season.
“One of our goals was can we get into the playoffs, right?” Westbrook said. “We did accomplish that goal. I was hoping that we would have a record of about .500, and we finished the season 7-9 going into the playoffs, and we were just a little bit off that … I just really feel the future is bright.”