For the second time in as many tries, the Garden City Buffaloes were looking to even the season series with a WAC rival Tuesday. But just like Thursday, the Buffs fell short, losing to Liberal, 2-1, Tuesday night at Buffalo Stadium on Senior Night.
Miscommunication on the defensive end of the field in the 65th minute allowed Liberal to take the late lead.
“I thought we played good enough to win,” head coach Joaquin Padilla said of his team on Tuesday. “They forced us to make a mistake at the end, and we could not take advantage of the mistakes they had so I think that was the difference. Sometimes we get chances and don't make them count, while our opponents put it away.”
It looked promising for the Buffs (7-4,3-4) early, as it only took 7 minutes for Garden City to get on the scoreboard, when junior Beau Watson found his spot from 10 yards out and finished for the quick lead. The 7th minute goal was Watson’s second goal in as many games.
Three minutes after the opening goal, Liberal head coach Lori Narro, perhaps not a fan of the officiating, was ejected from the game. The ejection marked her third consecutive year being ejected from Buffalo Stadium.
The Buffalo offense benefited from the wind in the the first half, having it at their back during the opening 40 minutes. Much of the first half was played on Garden City’s end of the field, which created chances but not any the Buffs could convert on to add to their lead.
“That has been one of the major differences in the first half of the season and this second half," Padilla said. "If we score on the opportunities that we have, we would be in better positioning than we are right now.”
Garden City scored 10 goals in the first five games, while only scoring four in the last five games.
Liberal took advantage of those missed opportunities and, even against the wind, pushed the Buffs defense to the back fourth of the field.
The Liberal offense found a crease, and put a cross that was killed in its track by the wind, which baited the Garden City keeper to come out and leave the net open, and all it took was a tap in from Liberal’s Mike Fonseca to even things up at 1-1 in the 24th minute. That's where it stood at the break.
In the second half, the Buffs now had to switch the field and play against the wind. The wind, however, did allow for both teams to open the field, box to box, and created more chances from longer distances.
But it took until the 65th minute for one of the teams to capitalize, when Liberal's Fonseca found himself wide open, and he outran the Buffalo defense for the last third of the field. The sophomore beat the Garden City keeper, giving Fonseca a brace for the game and the Redskins a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes left in the game.
“I think little mistakes (hurt) like the goalkeeper doesn't communicate with his defenders to let him know he has it, or the defense didn't clear the ball out," Padilla said. “Sometimes you get in those 'I got it, you got it' situations and nobody gets it. I think that was the difference in the game, and they made us pay for it.”
After a spirited effort for the last 15 minutes, it wasn't enough as the Buffaloes lost their second consecutive game by the same margin, 2-1.
“(The kids) know that once the game is over we have to get ready for Great Bend. There is nothing you can do about the game we just lost. You have to take it and move on,” Padilla said.