Fresh from their Goddard Invitational tournament championship win on Saturday, the Garden City Buffaloes soccer team won their fifth straight game to open the season, behind the second hat trick of the season from senior Htoo Htoo, defeating the Hays Thomas More-Prep Monarchs, 3-2, Tuesday afternoon, at Buffalo Stadium.
“We didn't have the energy we usually have, today," head coach Joaquin Padilla said. “I thought the wind had something to do with that, but it does go both ways. Normally, we control the better against the wind, but we had difficulties with that today, but it's a win and we’ll take that any day.”
Garden City (5-0) was knocking on the door early and often, maintaining a steady pressure on the Monarch defense during the first half. That consistent high pressure on the Monarchs' backline paid off in the 17th minute, when Htoo scored his first of his goals.
Besides their first game against Hays, the Buffs have been able to score in the opening half of each of their games thus far this season.
After a defensive mishap from the Monarch defense in the 24th minute, Htoo added to his goal total and doubling the Buffalo lead.
Garden City seemed to have an advantage on its side of the field as the Monarchs' defensive line seemed to be constantly on their heels, as Garden City's offense kept getting behind the Monarch line of defense.
The constant pressure from the Buffalo offense did create many chances for Garden City to score. However, they were unable to convert on many of them, even though they out-shot the Monarchs 25-3.
“We missed quite a few easy shots today,” Padilla said of his offense. “We should have (made more shots). We had some easy shots and we did not finish them. That has been one of our problems this season so far. Today, we need to make about half of them.”
Not all was lost in the first half for TMP, as the Monarchs pulled one back after senior Ryan Karlin scored with 35 seconds left in the first half, cutting the Buffalo lead to 2-1, right before the halftime whistle.
The third goal for the Buffs came in the 52nd minute, when Htoo converted on a keeper mishap and gave him not only his third goal of the game, but 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 an incredible run, which started all the way from the TMP backfield. The Monarchs were again able to cut into the Buffalo lead, 3-2.
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 on the Monarchs' side of the pitch.
The win is not stopping Padilla from realizing that his team can play better like they have earlier this season.
“We need to be more consistent," he said. "We played a beautiful game in the championship on Saturday, and we have to build on that.
“Today was not one of those days that we can build on, like we could on Saturday. We expected better, but it was a win."