BY JIM MISUNAS
GODDARD – Underdog Great Bend gave No. 1 ranked Goddard Eisenhower a monumental challenge before losing 2-1 in overtime in Thursday’s 5A soccer regional championship game.
Panther goalie Daniel Cervantes played the game of his lifetime by saving a pair of penalty kicks, one in each half. Great Bend’s Humberto Alonzo converted the Panthers’ first-half goal at the 23:35 mark.
“Daniel Cervantes’ performance on the two penalty kicks kept us in the game, and gave us a chance to win,” said Great Bend coach Jesus Loera. “It was one of the best soccer games we’ve ever played. We put up a great battle. I was proud of the way we played. We showed our maturity as a soccer team.”
But the Tigers scored their first goal on a counter-attack at the 37:33 mark of the second half and scored four minutes into the first overtime period off a defensive mistake.
“We kept us with their tempo and built an attack,” Loera said. “We took the game to them at points. Our games are physical in the Western Athletic Conference. We played a physical style today and felt confident the whole way.”
The Tigers (17-0-1) plays McPherson (15-2-1) after cruising through the regular season with a tie against 6A Derby the only blemish. The Panthers finished with a 9-8-1 record.
“Their coach Roger Downing congratulated me on our team’s effort,” Loera said. “We’ve earned respect for the way we play.”