With one strike of the ball, the high school soccer season was over for the Great Bend Panthers.
In a Class 5A state quarterfinal game at Cavanaugh Fields on Tuesday, Liberal’s Samuel Cruz lofted a high-arching shot from over 30 yards out to give the defending state champion Redskins a 1-0 win.
“A long shot like that, it shouldn’t make trouble for us,” GBHS head coach Gus Prieto said. “We should’ve controlled the ball. I don’t know what happened.”
With 2:22 remaining in the game, Cruz received a pass in open field and took his long-distance shot on goal. It sailed over the head of Panthers goalkeeper Claudio Sanchez to give the Redskins a 1-0 advantage.
“It was probably a 30-yard shot in the middle of the goal, and we missed it,” Prieto said. “A 30- to 40-yard shot shouldn’t give us trouble, but then that happened.”
It wasn’t the only long shot Liberal took.
With 6:57 remaining, the Redskins took a long shot on a free kick near midfield.
Sanchez deflected it off the crossbar. The Redskins were there for a shot off the rebound, but Sanchez got a hand on the shot, ricocheting it to his defense, which cleared the ball.
Great Bend finished with 10 shots, while Liberal finished with eight.
“Well, we tried hard,” Prieto said. “We tried to score in that second half. We pushed the ball. We missed chances to score. We should’ve scored in the second half.”
Senior forward Alex Urias led the Panthers with four shots, but was unable to get the ball past the Liberal goalkeeper.
The Panthers chose to play on the grass Cavanaugh Fields instead of the artificial turf at Memorial Stadium, in hopes of getting an advantage because Liberal plays on turf. But the Redskins proved up to the task.
It was the third time Great Bend has played Liberal, but it was the first time the Redskins won.
“I know these are the quarterfinals,” Prieto said. “These are different games. You can beat them 10 times if you play them 10 times, but this is a different game.”
Class 5A State
South Central Quarterfinal
At Great Bend
Cavanaugh Soccer Fields
Liberal 1, Great Bend 0
1 2 F
Liberal 0 1 — 1
Great Bend 0 0 — 0
Liberal — Second half, Samuel Cruz, 37th minute