HHS soccer nets another win

By BRETT MARSHALL

Special to The Hays Daily News

GARDEN CITY -- When the 2012 girls soccer season began just about a month ago, Garden City High School veteran coach Joaquin Padilla knew he would have testing moments with a young and inexperienced team.

But nobody could have foreseen what the first month of the season has dealt Padilla and the Buffs.

Already minus players with season-ending injuries, the Buffs' latest setback was having junior Jessica Guzman leave the team and senior Laura Guevara not being eligible for Monday's key Western Athletic Conference game against Hays High.

The result of that short-handed lineup was a 2-0 victory for the visiting Indians at Memorial Stadium, thus sending the Buffs to their third consecutive shutout loss and dropping their season record to 5-6 and 3-3 in the WAC. Hays High improved to 10-3 overall and 6-1 in the WAC.

"We're just missing a lot, both in players and in the way we're playing," Padilla said. "Defense has been one of our weaknesses and when you're short, you move people around and patch one side and that opens something up on the other side for the other team."

Despite the lack of depth and offensive firepower, the Buffs' defense played with heart and grit, something Padilla was pleased with.

For 60 minutes, the Buffs and senior goalkeeper Maddie Silva had kept the Lady Indians from scoring.

But the Indians finally scored on their 11th shot of the day when Bree Kiser took a cross from Megan Bird and misdirected the ball into the right corner of the net, just bypassing Silva who had slid over to protect the center of the goal.

"Maddie just moved to the side that you thought the ball was going and the girl made a really good misdiection kick," Padilla said.

That 1-0 lead stood up until there was 4:39 left in the game. On Hays High's seventh corner kick, April Johnson kept the ball high enough to find Taylor Herman and the junior goal-scoring machine headed it in past Silva for the 2-0 final margin.

"We try to work on winning those corner kicks," said Hays coach Chris Michaelis. "We try to keep the ball in the air and then want to get a great service ball. With Taylor's height, it works to our advantage."

Herman's goal was her 13th of the season in 13 games and pulls her to within one of Jessie Steffen's school record of 14 set in 2009.

"The girls have really stayed focused on maintaining possession this year," Michaelis said of his team that lists just one senior on the roster. "I thought the girls did a good job with ball movement. We went through lumps and bumps when they were freshmen and sophomores, but now they're starting to come along. They're just doing a better job of maintaining their composure and don't become frustrated."

The Indians might have won by an even bigger margin had it not been for the goaltending of Silva. The first-year senior keeper registered seven saves.

Garden City's lone shot came with just 1:40 left in the game when Evelyn Rodriguez got free on the left side, dribbled into the goal area before having her shot blocked by the Hays defense.

"We're just going through that process of rebuilding after having good players year after year," Padilla said.

"We had a good run, these girls are playing hard and we're going to continue to get better."

The Buffs have little rest as they traveled to Wichita today for a 5:30 p.m. game against Wichita West as part of the Wichita North Cup event. Hays High next plays at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Dodge City to close out its WAC season.