Not even Mother Nature could slow down the Garden City Buffaloes girls soccer team, as Thursday’s postponed game didn't stop the Buffaloes from steamrolling past their fierce rival Dodge City Demons 4-0 on Friday night at Buffalo Stadium.
Senior Neoli Munoz had her first brace of the season in the first six minutes of the game, giving the Buffaloes a comfortable lead for the rest of the game.
“We were pumped up for the rivalry (game),” Munoz said. “We know it’s a big game and that we have to play our hardest. We just wanted to start out fast and try to score first.”
The win keeps the Buffs (6-1-2, 3-0) undefeated in WAC and at home, 3-0 so far this season.
“I think we played very good right at the beginning, when we scored the first two goals,” coach Joaquin Padilla said, “and then we let (Dodge City) play their game, and we had a hard time getting out of that and play like we did when we first started. The intensity and energy went down in the first half.”
Padilla did, however, appreciate how his team closed out the game.
Munoz got the Buffs in early control by gaining possession of the ball at mid-pitch, and then outpaced the entire Demon defense, beating the goalie on a one-on-one opportunity.
It didn't take a full minute for Munoz to get her second goal, after senior Elyssa Salazar’s through pass found a running Munoz, who sliced right past the middle of the Dodge City defense for another tally.
Munoz’ two early goals were her fourth and fifth goals of the season, second most on the team. The fifth-minute goal was the earliest of the season for the Buffs
After starting the season in an offensive slump, Garden City has come alive as of late, scoring 17 goals in the last five games. In the first four games of the season, Garden City had only scored five.
“I think we are communicating better in the midfield, sending balls and talking to each other. We also know that we needed to get started quicker,” Munoz said of the team's offensive turnaround.
Defensively, the Buffs pitched their third straight shutout, and their fifth of the season. Padilla knows that as long as the defense is playing well, the team is playing well.
“The backline is pretty solid — they work on it day after day, and you have to have the skills to play in the back to have more control than anywhere else. As long as they keep improving, and we keep winning, we’re keeping that combination back there,” Padilla said.
“That's important. If the defense plays well, we all play well. They are good with communicating with us by keeping an eye on the game from the back and that helps us move the ball,” Munoz said.
To Dodge City’s credit, although the Conqs were under siege all half, they only allowed the two early goals and Garden City had to settle for the 2-0 lead going into the break.
“In the second half, we tried to get the girls to pick up the intensity, and I think that after we scored the third goal, they decided that they were going to be more ball movement and they did the little things that they work on,” Padilla said.
That third goal came in the 57th minute when a lob pass from a defender found its way to sophomore Anahi Castillo’s right foot, who then beat the Demon defense and put the Buffaloes up comfortably, 3-0.
Castillo retook the team lead in goals from Munoz, who were both tied at five goals before Castillo’s 57th minute goal.
“Complacency is one of the things we talked about at halftime,” Padilla said. “2-0 is not the best score you want to have, and we missed quite a few opportunities at the beginning and we let them know that they needed to pick up the intensity.”
A Leah Basilio goal in the 65th minute sealed the game for the Buffaloes.