The Great Bend High School soccer team changed the formation of its midfield in an attempt to turn around a campaign that has the Panthers at 3-6-1 with only five games left in the regular season.
“We decided to change the formation of our midfield,” Panthers head coach Gus Prieto said. “The kids have really been getting down. We decided to do something different and they liked it.
“We are a little more aggressive, and in a better position to control the ball.”
Controlling the ball was exactly what led the Panthers over Thomas More Prep-Marian, 3-2, on Tuesday in Great Bend for their first home win of the season.
The Panthers went up 1-0 in the first half after a Monarchs defender tripped Michael Prieto, who had beaten the defense for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Mario Espino took the penalty kick for the Panthers, and Prieto was taken to the hospital to check on a shoulder injury.
The Monarchs beat the Panthers’ defense to tie the game at one before the end of the half.
In the second half, the Panthers’ midfield began to dominate. For most of the second half, the ball was kept on the Monarchs’ side of the field and the Panthers’ offense was able to take several shots at the goal.
“We had a lot of shots in the second half,” Gus Prieto said. “We did good controlling the ball. When you have the ball and good precision with the ball, you have a good chance of winning.”
Less than a minute after the second half began, the Panthers pushed the ball past the Monarchs’ defense into the corner. Alex Urias crossed the ball past the goalkeeper into the box, and Jose Mijares struck the ball into the open net to put the Panthers ahead, 2-1.
“We just recently started this,” Espino said of the changes at midfield. “We had a rough start to the season, but we just needed to get organized. We needed to work as a team and start talking to each other.”
Fifteen minutes later, the Panthers’ midfield got the ball to the top of the box. Kevin Manase fought past a Monarchs defender to get a one-touch pass to Enrique Guyton, who buried the ball into the back of the net.
Great Bend held its 3-1 lead to the final minute of the game. Rogello Gonzalez of Thomas More Prep-Marian beat the Panthers goalie and got the school from Hays to within one goal with one minute, five seconds remaining. The Monarchs were unable to get the tying goal.
The Panthers win against TMP-Marian came one day after their road game against Junction City, which ended in a 3-3 tie after two 10-minute overtime periods.
“We are in good shape out there,” Gus Prieto said. “We played 100 minutes yesterday and some of the kids played a full game today.”
Manase scored two of the three Panthers’ goals in the tie against Junction City, including the tying goal in the last minute of regulation on a penalty kick. Javier Guerra scored the other goal for the Panthers.