Erik Barragan remembers his first goal as a high school soccer player as if it were just yesterday.
In fact, it has now been four seasons, dating back to the 2011 fall campaign when the Garden City Buffaloes boys soccer squad was playing Wichita South in a first round game of the Class 6A playoffs.
“I just remember how exciting it was first to be in the lineup, and then go score a goal,” Barragan said in a recent interview. “I remember almost like it was yesterday.”
Since that time, Barragan went on a goal-scoring barrage never seen before in GCHS boys soccer history.
He scored 19 goals as a sophomore, followed that up with a school-record 26 goals as a junior, then eclipsed his own mark with 27 goals in his senior campaign.
“I’ve had some amazing accomplishments, but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, and without my teammates,” Barragan said.
For his prowess on the pitch, Barragan has been tabbed as The Telegram’s 2014 Fall Sports Athlete of the Year.
“I improved a lot, and want to thank my coaches and teammates,” Barragan said. “They kept pushing me, and pushing me to work hard and to improve.”
Barragan said that during his sophomore season, his first full year on varsity, the game was much more challenging than he had previously experienced.
“They go harder, they’re bigger and they pushed me to be the best,” Barragan said of his early varsity experience. “They kept telling me to keep working hard, and what I needed to do to get better.”
Barragan scored in a variety of ways, utilizing his speed and his lateral quickness to be able to find the best angles from which to score.
Recently, Barragan was honored by becoming the Buffs’ first player to earn first team All-State Class 6A honors as chosen by the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association.
In the final stages of the 2014 campaign, Barragan was switched into the midfield position to help shore up the Buffs in that area. He was instrumental in shutting down other team’s top attackers.
“I would play any position coach tells me,” Barragan said. “I played goalkeeper at Great Bend one game my freshman year, and that was cool. I can play in the middle, up top, anywhere coach needs somebody. It’s good to be able to play different positions.”
Barragan has yet to decide on where soccer will next take him. He has an offer from both Fort Hays State University and Garden City Community College, which has added a men’s team in 2015, and a couple of schools in Nebraska, as well as one in Massachusetts.
“I don’t think my mom will let me go that far away,” Barragan said with a smile.
He also indicated he plans to travel to Mexico later this month to try out for a professional team. Then, he will make a determination of what his future will hold.
Highlighting his final season with the Buffs was helping the team claim its first Class 6A regional championship in nearly a decade. A one-goal loss at Wichita East brought a successful season to an end in the 6A quarterfinals, one game shy of making the state’s final four.
“Winning regionals was just amazing,” Barragan said. “We came into the year with our mindset that we would do something special. When we held that plaque up, it brought tears to my eyes.”
Most memorable moment of 2014 season: Winning Class 6A regional championship
Favorite Athlete: Neymar
Favorite class in school: Math
Person(s) I most admire: My parents
If I could meet one person, it would be: Ronaldinho Neymar
College I plan to attend: Undecided
Area of intended study: Electrical engineering; culinary
Season Highlights: Most goals scored, season, 27; all-state first team; winning regional team championship