Garden City holds off Dodge City in rivalry match
Soccer victories over rival Dodge City have rarely come easily for the Garden City Buffaloes, and Thursday night at Buffalo Stadium was no exception.
Scoring the first goal inside of two minutes into the pitch, the Buffs answered the Demons on two different occasions to outlast their Western Athletic Conference foe, 3-2, to improve their season record to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the WAC. Dodge City, meanwhile, fell to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the WAC.
“It still feels unreal to realize we won,” said head coach Jose Vital-Caro about 90 minutes following the end of the match. “It’s an understatement to say we’re happy as a team.”
Garden City never trailed in this match, but it was never a guaranteed win until the final horn sounded as the weather went from bad to worse in the second half. A light mist fell as winds increased over the final 40 minutes of action.
The Buffs’ leading goal scorer thus far during the season, sophomore Marcayla Mcgregor, put them on top with a goal in just the second minute at 38:54 when she dribbled along the left side, slid into the penalty box and shot the ball into the lower right corner of the net past a diving Karyme Fajardo.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Demons answered with a goal by America Gamez in the third minute (36:07) as she slipped past goalkeeper Leydaly Enriquez to score unassisted. The teams battled closely for the remainder of the opening half and the score remained at one-all heading into halftime.
In the second half, and playing with the wind at their back, the Buffs seemed to control possession quite a bit of the time. The Buffs’ got the go-ahead goal when freshman Wendy Zamudio drilled a free kick from the left 15-yard line and sent it 25 yards high into the top left of the night. Fajardo could not go high enough to make the save. That came in the 61st minute at 19:40 of the final half.
Garden got a little breathing room with its final score, this one coming on a long goal from junior Destiny Rojo, who ripped a shot from the 23-yard line centered and soared the ball 33 yards into the upper reaches of the net. That came in the 73rd minute.
It was a necessary goal, and proved to be the game-winner as Dodge City struck in the 76th minute with just 4:03 remaining on a close-in goal by Emily Alonso. The Buffs’ defenders were able to send the ball down the pitch on several occasions in the final two minutes to prevent the Demons from getting the tying goal.
“Just with the rivalry that exists between these two communities, that alone makes it a great game,” Vital-Caro said. “Now to be the team to win the game, that just puts the icing on top of this night.”
The second half saw Buffs’ keeper Neira Calderon made several saves on big shots from the Demons’ top attacker, Alisia Solis. For the match, Enriquez and Calderon combined for four saves as Dodge City came up with 8 shots. The Buffs had 7 shots and Dodge’s keeper finished with 2 saves.
Vital-Caro said this was another step in building confidence in his mostly underclassmen team.
“We’re only looking up and not down from here on out,” Vital-Caro said.
It will be a big week on the road next for the Buffs as they travel to Hays and Great Bend on Monday and Tuesday for back-to-back WAC matches. The pitch begins at 6:30 p.m. each day.
Dodge City 1 1 -- 2
Garden City 1 2 -- 3
GC—Marcayla Mcgregor, unassisted, 2nd minute (38:54)
DC—America Gamez, unassisted, 3rd minute (36:07)
GC—Wendy Zamudio, free kick, 15-yd. line, 61st minute (19:40)
GC—Destiny Rojo, long goal, 23-yd. line, 73rd minute (6:09)
DC—Emily Alonso, unassisted, 76th minute (4:03)
Shots—Dodge City 8, Garden City 7. Saves—Dodge City (Fajardo 2), Garden City (Enriquez 1, Calderon 3).