Injuries the theme for GCCC soccer in 2012
By ADAM HOLT
On the surface, the Garden City Community College women's soccer team had a miserable season, finishing with a 1-16 record.
And the win came in the Lady Broncbusters' final game.
Look a little deeper, though, and the reasons for that unenviable number of losses becomes clearer.
In a word, GCCC's 2012 season boiled down to this: injuries.
The Busters never played a game with their full, ideal starting lineup. Seemingly every game, someone got hurt or re-aggravated a previous injury.
"I quit counting about halfway through," GCCC head coach Ki Thornberry said of the injuries. "It was just a rotating door. We never played full-strength. What I felt, when you get your kids on campus, that's the thing you've got to worry about as a coach, is, injuries are going to happen. But again, just the revolving door — we'd get one back, and then another one goes down immeidately. Anywhere from one to four starters were out in every single game this season."
Aside from Vanessa Mata, who tore her ACL in the spring prior to coming to Garden City, the Busters didn't suffer any season-ending injuries. Thornberry said it almost might have been easier to just know a player was lost for the season.
The injuries hit the Garden City back line hardest. Defender Alexa Ortiz missed time with a hip injury and a concussion; fellow defenders Kyra Bussen (right ankle), Viky Benitez (concussion) and Lizeth Gomez (ankle) all missed varying amounts of time, as well. As if that weren't enough, midfielder Diana Alcantara missed time after complications following a spider bite.
Yeah, it was that kind of season.
The Busters played stretches of the season with patchwork defenses as a result, shuffling players out of position, with forward Deydi Depaz — who also missed time with an ankle injury — playing defense at times, with attacking midfielder Kat Hamric doing so as well.
"When you're recruiting these kids, and you've got in your head your ideal set lineup, and you know that they can be successful in those positions, it's a tough pill to swallow whenever you've got to take a forward who's capable of scoring goals, and stick them on the back line to try to prevent goals," Thornberry said.
Consistency on offense was also a problem. Garden City scored just 10 goals, a problem exacerbated by the revolving cast of players on defense. Often, the Busters would get down a goal and start to force things on offense, becoming less effective.
While the Busters were outscored 71-10 for the season, the injuries may have showed the most in a number of close losses in winnable games — a 1-0 loss to Pratt, which finished 5-13, or a 2-0 loss to Independence, which finished 1-15-1.
Still, Thornberry, who finished her second year at the helm praised the Busters for sticking with it all season. It paid off with a 2-1 win over Allen County in the final game of the season.
"They were elated when they won that last game, maybe a little bit more than they should have," Thornberry said. "But we were excited. They deserved it, for sure."
Thornberry said she saw flashes in the penultimate game of the season, a 5-0 loss to Barton. She said the good second half of that game carried over into the Allen win.
As for next year, Thornberry said the Busters are going to need more depth on the roster. That's going to be an issue of overall talent, as well as preparedness.
"We've got to be able to be better with our replacements, with the people off the bench," Thornberry said. "We've got to be deeper on the bench, and those people have to be able to contribute better. That's what we'll work on in the offseason and over the summer."
After a frustrating season, Thornberry said she has no intentions of going 1-16 next year. And while it was tough to see positives in the season, she said she's excited about getting back to work in the offseason.
"I believe in the Buster administration," Thornberry said. "They're bought into me and the program, as well, and I think I've got their support. They understand the season that we had, and the frustrations that I'm having, and the frustrations, obviously, that the kids are having. Thankful to be here and be part of this program. Because it would be easy to put someone on the chopping block after that season."