BY JIM MISUNAS
The 40-yard free kick by Diana Quiroz was perfectly struck, the type of quality shot that Great Bend girls soccer coach Margarita Ayala wants.
Quiroz’s shot was slowed by Emporia goalie Anyssa Hammond for a brief moment. But the ball was blown out of her grasp by a friendly 20 mph southerly wind with 27:59 on the second-half clock.
The ball trickled gently into the goal for the game-winning goal in Great Bend’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Spartans.
“I don’t know I’ve seen a goal like that,” Ayala said. “We’ve been working hard on delivering harder shots on goal. It was great to see that.”
The Panthers (2-0) earned back to back wins to start the season, a rare feat for a rising soccer program that features no seniors. The Panthers are scheduled to play at Liberal Tuesday.
“No one remembers that we’ve started the season 2-0,” Ayala said. “We’ve stressed teamwork and it’s working.”
Midfielder Alondra Espino delivered the game’s first key play with a perfect centering pass to the amazing Mayra Ramirez who scored at the 38:51 mark of the second half.
Panther goalie Ellie Anspaugh worked hard with the help of defenders Mikyla Meza, Esmeralda Delgadillo, Abby Mackinny, Joanna Sanchez and Angela Enriquez.
Mackinny earned the key defensive job against Emporia’s dazzling Kadin Stinson, who kept attacking the Panthers’ defense with quality shots.
“Abby had a hard job. I told her to stick with No. 16 like a piece of gum,” Ayala said. “She stayed with her.”
The Panthers earned a break when defender Joanna Sanchez was tagged for a yellow card for an aggressive foul that dropped Stinson that could’ve been assessed as a red card at the 34:28 mark.
“Our defense played really well,” Ayala said. “We wanted to play aggressive defense. They did fantastic.”
The Spartans responded with their best four minutes of offensive pressure without their scoring star Stinson. Emporia used teamwork as Laiza Perez scored off a Alize Tovar assist at the 31:55 mark.
Panther midfielders Quiroz and Ramirez helped at the defensive end to counteract the solid play of Spartans Alize Tovar and Maricruz Negrete.