BY JIM MISUNAS
For Great Bend Panther seniors Rylee Ayon, Emily Cortez and Guiselle Sanchez, Thursday was their final time to play soccer before their home crowd at Cavanaugh Field.
6A Junction City spoiled Senior Night for the Panthers with a solid 3-0 victory. The Panthers enjoyed their bright moments with standouts Yulisa Valdez and midfielder Joselin Pando playing their usual aggressive style. At times, the Panthers executed their touch passing for several good scoring opportunities.
But the Bluejays (7-9) scored three goals off counterattacks. Mindy Lechuga Nevarez scored the first goal (10:00) followed by goals by Brooke Swango (38:57) off a perfect pass by Vittoria Benoit and a third goal by Benoit (69:10) to complete the shutout victory by goalie Sophia Holloway.
Also contributing for the Panthers offensively were Mariela Alviza Carrasco and MaKenna Tinkler. Valdez and Luna had the Panthers’ best scoring chances. Standout Arely Reyes was playing solidly for the Panthers when she was sidelined with a leg injury at the 26-minute mark.
Eventually, the Bluejays’ defense started to swarm Valdez as Jocelyn Luke, Cha/Vontae Davis, Grace Harris and Jordyn Hunt took turns bumping and shadowing Valdez every chance they got.
Great Bend coach Margarita Ayala liked the effort and intensity the Panthers showed. Just a couple of defensive lapses cost the Panthers.
“We gave great effort and played really well at the start,” Ayala said. “The thing that costs us if when we get a little tired, we stop thinking and stopped doing the things that kept us in the game. I was proud of the girls’ effort.”
The Panthers (1-15) are tied with Newton (1-15) and Arkansas City (1-15) in the 5A soccer seedings. The bracket for 5A girls soccer will be drawn Saturday.