Buffs’ boys soccer season ends with 3-1 loss at Liberal in 6A regional semis

BOYS SOCCER: Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

The Garden City High School boys soccer team knew it had a big challenge ahead when it drew Western Athletic Conference foe Liberal in the semifinal round of the Class 6A Region 1 playoffs.

After all, the Buffaloes had dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to the Redskins during the regular season, falling 3-2 at home and then 1-0 on the road. So while the odds of a third-times-the-charm opportunity was possible, going on the road made the challenge even more daunting.

And that’s how things turned out Wednesday, Oct. 28, when the Buffs came up on the short end of a 3-1 decision at Liberal to be eliminated from the postseason and see their season end with a 6-8-1 record.

To make matters worse, the game was played in bitter cold and near-freezing sleet conditions.

Liberal got on the scoreboard first, scoring inside the 15-minute mark at the 25th minute to take an early 1-0 lead. The Buffs’ senior striker Rodrigo Oropeza answered with a goal in the 20th minute to knot the score only to have Liberal respond to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.

The Redskins added an insurance goal in the 78th minute after defenses had dominated play in the second half.

The Buffs out-shot the Redskins 17-12 and Garden keeper Angel Guevara registered 9 saves.

At the end of his first season as head coach, Jose Vital said he is optimistic about the program’s future.

“I have 3 freshmen who got a lot of playing time and experience this season,” Vital said. “We have a lot of sophomores and juniors who will return and the younger generation of our athletes look very promising. We will have a young goalkeeper who likely will be in the goal box for the next 3 years. We will have some good options on who will play in the next few years.”

Playoff note: Undefeated and state-ranked Dodge City survived its biggest scare of the season Thursday night, having to go into overtime to defeat upstart Hutchinson, 2-1. That win puts the Demons at 16-0 and they will host Liberal in the regional finals on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.

Another WAC school, Great Bend, advanced through its Class 5A regional with a 3-2 victory over Salina Central on Thursday night. The Panthers (7-9-0) will move into the quarterfinal round on Tuesday, Nov. 3, against the Maize-Maize South winner, a game that takes place on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Of the 8 losses this season, six of those came against WAC foes and in those six games three were decided by one goal, another two by two goals and one by four.

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