The seniors couldn't have asked for a better sendoff in their final home game, as the Garden CIty Buffaloes girls soccer team steamrolled the TMP-Marian Monarchs, 8-0, Thursday night at Buffalo Stadium.
Senior Noeli Munoz saved her last home game to score her first hat trick of the season, as she scored her ninth, 10th and team-leading 11th goals of the season to lead the Buffaloes over the Monarchs.
The Buffaloes (9-1-4, 5-0-2 in WAC), dominated the season series against the Monarchs, outscoring TMP 12-0 in two games.
The story of the first half was Garden City’s missed opportunities. The ball wasn't bouncing Garden City’s way, letting TMP off easy in the first 14 minutes of the game.
“In the first half, we didn't seem to be up to our standard. The first three passes of the game weren't very good, and from then on it seemed like we didn't have the energy or lacked focus,” said GCHS coach Joaquin Padilla.
Munoz agreed, saying she got off to a slow start.
“I really wasn't expecting (to score a hat trick). The first half wasn't my game. I missed a lot of opportunities to score, and i just wanted to come out better in the second half,” she said.
Fortunately for the Buffaloes, the floodgates opened and they scored three goals in three minutes to essentially put the game out of reach.
Munoz started the scoring party in the 16th minute as an Elyssa Salazar corner kick found Munoz in the inside of the penalty box, scoring the first of a flurry of goals for the Buffaloes.
One minute later, a perfect pass from the backline found sophomore Anahi Castillo’s feet and she won the foot race against the Monarch defense, doubling the Buffalo lead to 2-0.
The third goal came at the feet of junior Hailey Enriquez, scoring her first of two goals, setting herself up with a nice backheal, beating the Monarch defender to give the Buffaloes a 3-0 lead.
The Buffaloes were in complete control, controlling 66% of the total possession with 15 shots on goal.
It wasn't much better for TMP in the second half, as Garden City continued its dominance, scoring five goals in the first nine minutes.
“I thought in the second half, not only because we scored five goals, but I think they played much better and played their game,” Padilla said.
Munoz also knew that she had to do better in the second half.
“(Padilla) was telling us to get our heads up and to open our eyes and talk to each other. That really helped me get my confidence back,” she said.
The fourth goal came in the 41st minute from junior Hailey Enriquez, her second of the night. Two minutes later, senior Elyssa Salazar curled a shot from outside the penalty box, finding the back of the net, giving Garden City a 5-0 lead.
Munoz scored again in the 45th and 49th minutes to complete her hat trick, while Salazar had her second in the 47th minute. Enriquez completed her brace in the 47th minute.
The Buffalo defense, once again, played their game, as the this was Garden City’s eight cleansheet of the season and third consecutive shutout.
With a big win like this, it might be hard for teams to remain focused, but Padilla made sure his team used the blowout as situational soccer.
“We want to practice on the things that we struggle with. The defense is solid, so we were working on trying to get the ball to the outside, after a few touches in the middle,” he said.
The seniors, like Munoz and Salazar, will be celebrated on senior night for scoring five combined goals between the two. But Padilla knows that senior night is a night to remember everyone who contributes to the team.
“Some of them aren't starters, but they contribute so much to the team in practice. When they do play, they also help us out a lot," Padilla said. "If we can get help from the first person to the last person, our team will be that much better.”