It came down to the final minute of overtime when Great Bend junior Eric Martinez nailed a free kick giving the Panthers a 3-2 WAC opening victory over Hays Monday at Cavanaugh Fields.
Martinez converted the sudden death winning shot with 1:03 remaining in the extra slot as Great Bend picks up its third straight victory and begins Western Athletic Conference play at 1-0.
“We came out with some needed momentum after our two wins at Wichita last week,” said GBHS coach Gus Prieto. “We had a pretty good offensive push to begin the game and then it turned into a defensive battle late in the second half.”
Martinez found the net four minutes into the game from a pass by Brian Galindo. Late in the half Carlos Daniel Franco punched a free kick through at 1:37 giving the home team Panthers a 2-0 advantage heading to intermission.
The Indians started the second half with a 2-0 run and tied the game at two. Neither team would find the net for the remainder of regulation.
“We were so close. We had four or five chances to score and just couldn’t put the ball where we wanted it,” Prieto said. “We attacked from every angle and still could not get any offensive thrust. We just kept pushing until the end of the half.”
The situation looked like a second overtime was in the bag. With just three seconds over the one-minute mark Martinez found the pay dirt the Panthers were looking for on the walk off free kick as Great Bend claimed the 3-2 OT victory.
The Panthers bump their season record to 3-2 with their WAC opening win.
Great Bend will face St. John Military Thursday in Salina.