Tuesday’s Class 6A semifinal regional match at Buffalo Stadium took 4 hours to complete, due to an injury delay early and a two-hour lightning delay in the middle.
But the host Garden City Buffaloes did not seem fazed by either pause in play, rolling to a 4-0 rout of visiting Dodge City, advancing to Thursday’s region final. But the weather delay is nothing new for these two teams.
“It’s not that strange, actually,” GCHS assistant coach Josue Negron said after the win. “It happened to us two years ago when Dodge came here during the regular season and then it happened to us three years ago when we went there. I don’t know what it is with the weather during our games.”
Tuesday’s win also came with the big downside of an injury to starting freshman Ivanee Medrano, who had to be taken off the field in the opening minute of the game on a stretcher with an undisclosed injury.
“That happens that early, I think we were a little struck by that,” Negron said.
The injury forced an early change in the lineup, moving Nateara Beasley up top and JoJo Dominguez came off the bench to replace Beasley in the midfield.
“I thought Nateara and JoJo came in and did a good job settling the team down,” Negron said.
And an early goal helped, as well.
Playing with the wind in the first half, heading north, the Buffs (11-1-5) got several quick chances, including a header that went over the cross bar in the third minute. But it was the familiar duo of Elyssa Salazar and Noeli Munoz who connected in the ninth minute for the opening goal.
Salazar chipped a pass over the back line, and Munoz controlled it with her chest, dropping it to her feet and past Dodge City goalkeeper Rachel Garcia for the easy tap in.
Dodge City’s defense was able to hold for much of the rest of the first half, repelling several Garden City attacks — but the Red Demons’ attack never could threaten Garden City keeper Hannah Kipp, who had just two saves all game.
In the 37th minute, however, Anahi Castillo received a pass at the top of the box with her back to the goal, but spun on her heel and drilled one into the right-hand side of the net for the 2-0 lead.
Almost immediately following the goal, the center ref halted play after a bolt of lightning struck within the 10-mile radius.
By the time the small cell moved over Garden City, it was more than a two-hour delay before play resumed.
“We had slow warm-ups, and the delay just made us wait longer. It was so long,” Salazar said.
The one positive was it pushed the game so far into the evening the lights had to be turned on, which is “fun,” Salazar said, adding to the excitement of the win.
Under those lights, Haily Enriquez scored a highlight reel goal, curling in a ball into the upper 90 from 30 yards out, giving the Buffs a 3-0 lead in the 46th minute. Finally, it was Beasley — who moved up in the formation after Medrano’s injury — who put the finishing touches on the win with a goal off a deflected corner kick in the 61st minute.
“It wasn’t that big a chance, and Beasley ended up scoring a goal, so it worked out,” Negron said of the change. “But that injury is really unfortunate, and it kind of cut into our depth, as well.”
The Buffs will host Topeka (10-6-1) at 6 p.m. Thursday in the region final. Topeka blanked Haysville-Campus, 5-0, on Tuesday in Topeka.