It was a big match in the Jayhawk Conference. The men’s soccer contest between Barton and Garden City was an early playoff-type contest.
It was first and foremost a battle of one-loss teams fighting for the inside track to the second spot in the Jayhawk. But it was also an elimination game of sorts for the Jayhawk Conference Championship.
Thanks in large part to the play of sophomores standout Renan Sousa the Cougars proved they are an elite team in the conference with a 4-2 road win over the No. 17 Broncbusters.
“I was very pleased with the final result,” Barton Coach Aaron Avila said. “Garden City has a good team and they were ahead of us in the conference standings.”
The win put Barton with the advantage for the second seed in the Jayhawk. Barton, Garden City, and Cloud County all have 15 points in the conference but the Cougars are the only 5-1 team. Garden and Cloud are both 5-2.
It also keeps Barton in the running for that Jayhawk title on the heels of Pratt. Pratt is 6-0 with 18 points. Pratt has already beaten Barton but still has contests with Cloud and Garden left on the schedule.
The Cougars can tighten that grip on the second spot and keep the pressure on Pratt in its next outing as Barton travels to Concordia Thursday to take on Cloud in another crucial match. That will come off the heels of Cloud traveling to Pratt today.
The win at Garden came down the play of Sousa and a great second half by the Cougars.
Sousa picked up three assists for Barton. For many that is a once in a career moment or at least once in a season. For Sousa it is old hat. It is the third time this season he has recorded the assist hat trick.
Oh, and he scored the game’s first goal as well.
Sousa gave Barton a 1-0 lead with a goal just five minutes into the contest as he quickly established his presence in the contest. His 10th goal of the year gave him the lead on the team over Lucas Alves. Juan Barron picked up the assist.
Sousa didn’t keep that lead long in goals scored. After Garden City tied the match in the 15th minute Sousa got Alves his 10th goal. He hit Alves with a long pass then the freshman took it the final 25 yards and beat the keeper far post.
That gave Barton a 2-1 lead at the midway point of the opening half. Garden would tie it less than one minute later. The two teams would battle scoreless the final 23 minutes of the opening half.
For Garden, it would be its final goal the final 68 minutes of play.
The Barton defense went on lockdown in the second half. After allowing five shots on goal in the opening half, Barton gave Garden just one chance in the final 45 minutes.
“Some defensive mistakes on our part allowed them to stay in the game during the first half,” Coach Avila said. “We were able to do a better job defensively in the second half.”
While the defense was shutting down the Broncbusters, the Barton offense was still going strong.
Barton took the lead for good when Sousa found Sergio Ribeiro on a thru ball just shy of 20 minutes into the second half.
It didn’t take long for Barton to pad its lead with another Sousa to Alves goal three minutes later. That gave Sousa 14 assist and Alves 11 goals on the year.
From there Barton will keep the Busters at bay the final 24 minutes of the contest to earn the 4-2 win.
Now the Cougars ready for a big week of play in the conference – especially for Cloud as they travel to Pratt today and host Barton Thursday. The contest Thursday will kickoff at 4 p.m.