Other than the result, Hays High soccer coach Silas Hibbs didn’t have too many complaints about the Indians’ season opener against Garden City. 

Hays had several near-misses in the second half but couldn’t find the net, falling 1-0 to the Buffaloes in a physical match on Tuesday at Hays High.

“Definitely not the outcome we wanted from a win-loss perspective, but the boys grew immensely and they played as tough as they could,” Hibbs said. “Hats off to Garden, they played a good game and finished the opportunity they had.”

That opportunity was cashed in by Garden City senior Htoo Htoo, who fired a shot to the top of the net off an assist from Salvador Bustos  with 16:21 left.

Hays responded by creating scoring chances, including a header from Jacob Maska that hit the post. Garden City keeper Jose Betanco preserved the shutout.

“We hit a couple posts and had some great opportunities that didn’t go in,” Hibbs said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”

The bulk of the Indians’ opportunities came in the second half with the wind.

“The western Kansas wind is always a factor out here in Hays,” Hibbs said. “The switch of halves helped us a lot when we we're going with the wind and created some more opportunities. Garden actually scored going against in the wind, which was a great shot by their player.”

The Indians have a mix of newcomers and returners, led by Maska, Trae McCrae and goalkeeper Connor Teget. Hays went 12-7 last year and reached the state quarterfinals.

“We return three all-state players in Trae McCrae, Connor Teget and Jacob Maska, and you saw how hard they played today," Hibbs said. "They played tough and they were getting fouled the entire game.

 “Some of our guys didn’t even play soccer last year and they’re out here playing a varsity game. Very encouraged by how much they grew. For the first game, definitely not pleased with the result, but pleased with the work they put in and how much they grew.”

GARDEN CITY 1, HAYS HIGH 0

Garden City 0 1 — 1

Hays High 0 0 — 0

Goal — Garden City: Htoo. Assist: Bustos. Shutout: Betanco.

Records — Garden City 1-0, Hays High 0-1.