Great Bend’s No. 7 state-ranked soccer team was down 5-1 when the Panthers regained the momentum against pesky Hays High.
Leading scorer Erick Martinez broke the shackles of the Indians’ defense on a perfect touch pass by Joshua Rodriguez for the game-winning goal in a 6-5 Western Athletic Conference victory at Cavanaugh Field. Indian Tanner Hunsicker led aggressive defense on Martinez.
“They were guarding me with three players and that made it difficult,” Martinez said. “I was really proud of our guys. We tried our hardest and tried to make everyone happy. I was getting pretty worried. We knew it would be tough. That first half hurt us.”
Daniel Franco (25:46), Chiny Sanchez (23:07), Alonso Alonzo (19:17) and Alejandro Espino (16:30) scored second-half Panther goals for a 5-5 tie. Espino scored the tying goal when Martinez drew the defense’s attention. MartThe Panthers executed a crisper passing game to take advantage of a 17 mph south wind the second half. Espino triggered several offensive attacks with pin-point passes.
“We played more organized the second half,” said Great Bend coach Jesus Loera “We played too anxious and tried to force things the first half. We started making solid connections and started playing to our feet rather than bombing it down the field. We put ourselves in position to make plays up the field.”
Despite the loss, the Indians proved why the Western Athletic Conference is competitive in soccer. The Indians’ athletic Ethan Nunnery dominated the Panthers’ smaller defenders for a 3-goal burst in the opening 12 minutes. He outmuscled defenders Rogelio Arias and Darien Sanchzes to kick three goals past goalie Daniel Cervantes.
Hays High’s Zachary Wagner scored two goals to hand the Indians a 5-1 lead 5:23 into the second half. A goal by Alonso Alonzo kept the Panthers within 5-1.
“Hays definitely played a great first half,” Loera said. “We did enough to win and came back to play a great game.”
Loera said the Panthers must put their best game together from the start against Dodge City. The challenge will get stiffer when the Panthers (5-2, 2-1 WAC) play No. 3 Class 6A Dodge City (7-0, 3-0 WAC) Thursday at home.
“These guys know they have capability to pull out a win,” Loera said. “We learned rthe importance of coming out strong the first half with intensity.”
GREAT BEND JV 7, HAYS 0 — Great Bend's Israel Esparza and Juvenal Garay each scored two goals and Armando Leyva, Leonardo Cortez and Guilherme Silva each added one goal apiece. Goalie Eduardo Bujanda shut out Hays.
PANTHERS 6, INDIANS 5
Hays High 4 1 — 5
Great Bend 1 5 — 6
HH—Ethan Nunnery, 36:00; HH—Nunnery, 31:56; HH—Nunnery, assist Zachary Wagner, 28:38; GB—Alonso Alonzo, assist Darien Sanchez, 5:25; HH—Wagner, 34:37; GB—Daniel Franco, 25:46; GB—Chiny Sanchez, assist Daniel Franco, 23:07; GB—Alonzo, 19:17; GB—Alejandro Espino, assist Erick Martinez, 16:30; GB—Martinez, assist Joshua Rodriguez, 5:54.
Western Athletic Conference
Dodge City 3-0 7-0
Great Bend 2-1 5-2
Liberal 2-1 3-3
Garden City 1-2 5-2
Hays High 0-4 3-4
Great Bend 6, Hays 5
Dodge City 2, Garden City 0
Dodge City at Great Bend
Wichita North at Liberal
Buhler at Hays High
DODGE CITY (7-0, 3-0)—Wichita South 9-1; Wichita Northwest 5-1 (Titan Classic); Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 2-1 (Titan Classic); 1st, Wichita Carroll 3-2 (Titan Classic); Liberal 1-0; Hays High 9-0; Garden City 2-0; 9-22, at Great Bend; 9-27, Hutchinson; 9-29, at Garden City; 10-4, Hays High; 10-6, at Hays-Thomas More Prep; 10-11, Great Bend; 10-13, Wichita Heights; 10-18, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel; 10-20, Liberal
GREAT BEND (5-2, 2-1)—Salina Central 2-3; Liberal 2-5; Hutchinson 1-0, OT (Titan Classic); Wichita East 3-0 (Titan Classic); 9-10, Derby 2-1 (Titan Classic); Hays High 6-1; Hays High 6-5; 9-22, Dodge City; 9-24, at Manhattan; 9-27, at Garden City; 10-4, TMP; 10-6, Garden City; 10-10, Wichi-ta Independent; 10-11, at Dodge City; 10-17, at Liberal; 10-20. at McPherson
LIBERAL (3-3, 2-1)—Great Bend 5-2; Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 1-6 (Titan Classic); Wichita NW 2-1 (Titan Classic); 5th, Wichita North 1-4 (Titan Classic); Dodge City 0-1; Garden City 3-2; 9-22, at Hays-Thomas More Prep; 9-24, Wichita North; 9-29, at Hays High; 10-4, at Garden City; 10-6, at Hays; 10-10, North Cup; 10-13, North Cup; 10-15, North Cup; 10-17, Great Bend; 10-20, at Dodge City
GARDEN CITY (5-2, 1-2)—Hays High 4-0; Campus 2-0 (Goddard Tournament); Goddard Eisenhower 2-1 (Goddard Tournament); Hays-TMP 6-0; Liberal 2-3; 1st, Goddard 4-0 (Goddard Tournament); Dodge City 0-2; 9-27, Great Bend; 9-29, Dodge City; 10-4, Liberal; 10-6, at Great Bend; 10-10, North Cup; 10-12, North Cup; 10-15, North Cup; 10-17, at Hays-Thomas More Prep; 10-18, Hays High
HAYS HIGH (3-5, 0-4)—Garden City 0-4; Wichita Classical 10-0; Derby 2-3 (Titan Classic); Topeka West 6-0 (Titan Classic); Hutchinson 3-2 OT (Titan Classic); Great Bend 1-6; Dodge City 0-9; Great Bend 5-6; 9-22, Buhler; 9-27, at Junction City; 9-29, at Liberal; 10-4, at Dodge City; 10-6, Liberal; 10-8, at Wichita Carroll; 10-18, Garden City; 10-20, Hays-Thomas More Prep