Garden City Community College's fall sports all had games over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The Broncbuster cross country team opened the season under the lights on Friday night at Hutchinson for the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at Fun Valley.
The Garden City men finished 10th in the four-mile course.
The Broncbusters were led by Michael Walden, who raced to a 25th place finish with a time of 23:06. His average mile time was 5:46.7. Javyn Contreras placed 56th, with a time of 24:41. Next for GCCC was Anthony Gamble, who posted a time of 25:41, good for 67th place. Samuel Gitau was 76th, Noe Rodriguez came in 86th, and Debonaire Williams was 92nd.
Cloud County won the men's race with Hutchinson finishing second.
When all is said and done, Northeastern may be the most physical team Garden City plays all year.
Four times in the first half, play stopped for injury timeouts. Sprinkle in the fact that the Plainsmen had three yellow cards, and by the time the final horn sounded, the pounding had taken its toll, with Garden City dropping the home opener, 1-3 Friday night at Broncbuster Stadium.
The Broncbusters were held to just two shots on goal, while Northeastern scored twice in the final 40 minutes.
"The girls gave a ton of effort throughout the course of the game, but the soccer side of things continues to let us down at times," Head Coach Corey Bryant said. "Northeastern was super physical. They beat up on us pretty bad," Bryant explained. "We have to learn to match that kind of physicality."
That physicality may have cost Garden City a couple of their key players, including Catherine Small, who suffered a left ankle sprain.
Despite being pushed around for most of the first half, the Broncbusters more than held their own. The game remained scoreless for the first 39 minutes before the Plainsmen finally broke through. Courtney Dinkel rolled a ball past Kaylee Keller to put Northeastern up 1-0.
"We just have to continue to grind," Bryant added. "This is a marathon."
Early in the second half, Northeastern struck again. The Broncbusters were called for a foul, giving the Plainsmen a penalty kick from 10 yards out. Jenna Vidal was spot on, angling the ball into the corner of the net, putting the visitors on top 2-0.
The physical jostling continued just a couple of minutes later when Northeastern was called for a foul near the box. The Broncbusters took full advantage, and Noeli Munoz netted her second goal of the season to slice the deficit in half.
"The results will come," Bryant said. "We just have to keep working."
Garden City had opportunities to tie the match in the second half. But each shot clanged off the post. Meantime, Northeastern finally put the game away with Amber Hurtado's goal in the 70th minute.
"We will get there eventually," Bryant said. "It's a long season."
Northeastern outshot Garden City 13-8. Keller recorded five saves.
Garden City, with a 0-3 overall record, opens its conference schedule on Wednesday with a 4:30 p.m. home matchup against Barton.
Things turned quickly in the Broncbusters home opener on Saturday.
Ousseynou Cisse and Chigoze Okoie each scored twice as Otero blanked Garden City 5-0 at Broncbuster Stadium.
"After our first mistake, everything fell apart," assistant coach Hector Martinez said. "It was a lack of control in the defense, combined with the speed of Otero."
That first mistake came 15 minutes into the match. With the Rattlers were on the attack, Cisse fired a ball that deflected off the right post. As it came back to the left, Okoie was there on the rebound, sneaking it past Garden City goalie Gabriel Melo.
The avalanche continued moments later when Cisse crossed up Melo, veered slightly to his left, and tapped it in with his right foot, putting the Rattlers up 2-0.
"It was kind of like a domino effect," Martinez said. "Things got out of control in a hurry."
Otero's onslaught continued. With 15 minutes to go until the break, Cisse was at it again, striking a hot shot past a diving Melo, giving the road team a 3-0 advantage. The Rattlers added one more before halftime when Okorie attacked in from the right side.
Martim Comacho put the match out of reach late in the second half with a goal in the 80th minute, as Otero handed the Broncbusters their second straight shutout loss.
There have been flashes of good play for Garden City. But the inconsistency has hurt the Broncbusters through their first seven matches.
Garden City dropped two more on Friday, losing to Trinidad State in three sets (12-25, 20-25 and 12-25) and to Lamar in four (25-23, 20-25, 21-25 and 21-25) on Friday in the Otero Junior College Classic at La Junta, Colo.
"We are still really looking for an identity," Head Coach Patrick Hiltz said. "Some of us at times, are still wanting to do our own thing. That is really hurting us."
The Broncbusters struggled in the opener, with a slew of errors leading to an early double-digit deficit. Following a 13-point loss in the first set, Garden City kept things close in the second, before a couple of untimely miscues put them in a 2-0 hole. Unfortunately, the final set mirrored the first, making it the third time this season that the Broncbusters have been swept in straight sets.
"Until this team decides to be disciplined, to give max effort every day in all areas of their lives, to listen to their coaches, to play as a team, the results will be the same," Hiltz explained.
The second match was a glimmer of hope. Garden City sneaked past the Lopes with a two-point victory in the opening set. But the Broncbusters dropped the next two. Then in the fourth, Garden City blew a 12-2 advantage, as they watched Lamar storm back to tie it at 14. With the score knotted at 21, the Broncbusters committed four consecutive errors that ended the match.
"It's frustrating to watch some of the players on this team working their butts off and giving everything they've got every single point, only to have their efforts washed away by the few remaining players that are paddling in a different direction," Hiltz said.
Jessica Forbes led the way with 14 kills in the second match. Katarina Vojvodic added 12 kills, Summer Nerkowski had 19 digs, and Katie McHugh led the way with 25 assists.
On Saturday, Garden City put themselves in position for their first win of the season. But in the end, Patrick Hiltz's team couldn't finish, as they dropped their final two matches of the Otero Junior College Classic, losing to North Platte in five (30-28, 25-11, 17-25, 15-25, 11-15) and Otero in four (15-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-19). The Broncbusters are now 0-9.
"I'm tired of talking about how close we are," Hiltz said. "We need to finish. That's what it comes down to. But today, was much better as far as effort. We got a little better today"
The first match of the day showed Garden City's true potential. Trailing 24-20 in the opening set, the Broncbusters rallied for a 30-28 victory. They looked even better in the second set, leading by double digits most of the way, cruising to a 14-point win.
Things started to unravel a bit in the third. Garden City couldn't match North Platte's best run of the day, as the Knights surged in front by 10. They won the set by eight. In the fourth, the Broncbusters couldn't find any rhythm and suddenly found themselves in a dog fight. That setup a dramatic final frame, where Garden City led 8-7 at the side change. But the Knights countered with a 6-1 run. As the Broncbusters slowly regained their footing, Hilt'z team missed a serve on match point.
Katie McHugh had 29 assists, and Summer Nerkowski added 16 digs.
In the second match, the Broncbusters dug themselves into a 2-0 hole before rallying back to take the third set by three. In the fourth, Garden City had a chance to force a decisive stanza, but unforced errors late in the set put the game away.
Angel Sherman led the way with 15 kills. McHugh added 31 assists, and Adisyn Swan had 10 kills and nine digs.