The Great Bend High School boys’ soccer team lost 4-1 on Tuesday to Western Athletic Conference foe Dodge City.
The loss drops the Panthers’ overall record to 4-7-1. Their WAC record is now 2-6.
The Red Demons came out strong against the Panthers early in the first half, controlling the ball on Great Bend’s side of the field.
Dodge City’s Victor Millan struck first when he broke past the Panthers’ defense and struck a shot into the corner of the goal.
“They had too many chances to score,” Panthers head coach Gus Prieto said. “(Millan) is a really good player. He is fast and he has the skills.”
Just two minutes after the first goal, Millan took a free kick from outside the box after a foul was called on the Panthers. Millan’s kick sailed over the defense and bounced in and out of Panthers goalkeeper Ramon Garcia’s hands for a score.
After the second goal, Prieto said that he noticed his team’s attitude change.
“We fought for the ball more after that second goal,” Prieto said. “We fight a little more for the ball at the beginning and at the end of the game.
“It showed me that we are in shape and we can finish games strong.”
The extra fight produced a few scoring opportunities for the Panthers in the first half, but they were never able to capitalize.
One opportunity occurred immediately after the second goal, when Rodriguez got the ball in the corner and was able to cross the ball in front of the net, but the Demons were able to clear the ball.
Another opportunity arose when Rodriguez was given a free kick. Much like Millan’s free kick earlier, Rodriguez took a shot on goal, which sailed just over the cross bar.
“In the first half, we had maybe six good chances to score, but we just didn’t,” Prieto said. “We need to work on finishing the plays.
“We are moving well and we are running well. We just don’t finish the play right now.”
The Demons finished the half with a third goal, this time by Vicente Estrella, to make it 3-0.
Minutes into the second half, Garcia redeemed himself on a Dodge City penalty kick after a foul was called inside the box.
The Demons’ forward took a shot at the lower left corner of the goal and Garcia made a diving save to keep Dodge City from widening the lead.
But Dodge would not be denied. Millan completed his hat trick, when he beat Garcia, shooting the ball into the top of the goal.
“Mostly, they were just chipping the ball over us,” Panthers defender Javier Guerra, who was filling in for an injured Kevin Morales, said. “They worked as a team, passing the ball around well.”
With 11 minutes left in the game, the Panthers got onto the scoreboard. Junior midfielder Flemming Hopp broke past the defense on an assist from Rodriguez.
Hopp buried the ball into the back of the net while being tripped from behind to give the Panthers their only goal of the game.
“After the goal, we were awake,” Hopp said. “We knew we could score on them, but it was already too late.”