The season for the No. 5 seeded Garden City Buffaloes (11-4-3) girls soccer team came to an abrupt end, falling one game short of the Class 6A state quarterfinals by losing to the No. 4 Wichita East Aces (13-2-2), 3-1, in the regional championship Thursday at Wichita East.
“The girls played well today,” said head coach Joaquin Padilla of his team’s performance. “I’m proud of them, and I thought, overall, we showed progress and improvement, not just today, but all season long."
The first half went well enough for the Buffs as they were locked in a 1-1 tie with the Aces at intermission. The Aces scored first, as Brynn Walker opened up the scoring for East in the 32nd minute off a corner kick.
Three minutes later, junior midfielder Noeli Munoz evened the game up in the 35th minute. Munoz was assisted with her fourth goal of the season by freshman teammate Elyssa Salazar.
Unfortunately for the Buffs, the second half did not go as well. East added two more goals to their game total, while blanking Garden City.
Yossimar Villagrana converted a 51st minute penalty kick and Anahi Guevara scored on a free kick in the 64th minute. That two-goal lead was simply too much for the Buffs, who struggled with getting their shots into the net.
“I thought we played as good as they did today,” said Padilla. "The difference is that they were able to converted their chances and we didn't.”
The Buffs' mistakes came from not defending the corner kick properly, and fouling inside the box to allow Wichita East to take the second half lead.
Although disappointed with the loss, Padilla didn't think his team was that far behind from last year’s East squad, which finished fourth in the state tournament.
”They were good, but I didn't think they were on a different level than us," Padilla said. "They just made us pay for our mistakes.”
The season might have come to an end, but that does not mean Padilla is not proud of what his team was able to achieve this season.
“We had a good start, considering we had we had seven games in 10 days at one point this season," Padilla said. "They did very well overall this season. We also overcame some major injuries, but improved with the girls we had they were able to step up."
The Buffs will have a very experienced team coming back next year, only losing three seniors to graduation. Padilla hopes the girls can pick up where they left off.
"We can come back strong next year, if we can pick up the rhythm of what we coach," Padilla said. "If they can pick up where we left off and build on what we have learned, we can be as good next year, as we were this year.”