Thomas More Prep-Marian soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock used an additional holding midfielder in an attempt to slow a skilled Garden City attack on a hot and windy Tuesday at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex, but it took the Monarchs too long to embrace the new formation.
By the time the inexperienced Monarchs adjusted to playing with two defensive midfielders, the Buffaloes led 3-0 after 10 minutes. After 80 minutes, Garden City went to shake hands with a convincing 7-1 victory.
Alex Morales opened the scoring in the fifth minute and added a second three minutes later when TMP failed to maintain possession following a restart.
Senior Armando Guerrero made it 3-0 in the ninth minute, and with the Monarchs playing with the wind at their back in the first half, the three-goal deficit was too much to overcome.
“At first, the kids were confused,” Wellbrock said. “That’s why we gave up a couple goals right off the bat. Evidently, they didn’t understand what I wanted them to do.”
The Monarchs got on the board in the 13th minute when sophomore Alec Stults finished off a set piece and volleyed a loose ball into the right side of the net with the outside of his foot.
“I don’t know why we have to wait until we’re behind to start playing,” Wellbrock said. “We talked about that at half.”
Garden City maintained possession for much of the final 30 minutes of the first half, but Josh Stark and the TMP defense did not allow another goal the rest of the half. Although the Monarchs allowed seven goals in the game, it could have been worse. The senior keeper made saves or forced shots wide in numerous difficult situations and put together his first full game of the season, an effort he can be proud of according to his coach.
“This is one of the best games I’ve seen him play, bar none” Wellbrock said. “I hope he continues to improve from here.”
With a gusting wind aiding the Garden City attack, TMP struggled to possess the ball in the offense half for any stretch of the second half, putting a lot of strain on its defense.
Morales completed his hat trick two minutes into the second half. The Monarchs saw the Buffaloes waste multiple scoring opportunities to score in the next 30 minutes. At times Garden City attackers found themselves one-on-one with Stark but unable to beat the keeper. According to coach Joaquin Padilla, the Buffaloes need to improve their ability to finish when it counts.
“We work on that some, but we gotta put them on frame when the game is on,” Padilla said. “It doesn’t help if you put it (in), in practice.”
After missing out on chances to further extend the lead earlier in the second half, the Garden City attack nearly duplicated its run of goals from the first half, scoring three in the final five minutes.
Adrian Moreno scored in the 75th minute before Dat Hoang added a pair of late goals. In the 77th minute, Hoang used the wind at his back to get a free kick over the TMP wall and into the net. He finished off a play where the Monarchs defense appeared to give up on the play in the final minute to score the game’s final goal.
“I would’ve considered — against these guys — a respectable game (at) 5-1, but I think we got lazy and tired there towards the end,” Wellbrock said.
Padilla left the field pleased with the result but wishing his team could’ve been more crisp through the challenging conditions.
“The wind doesn’t help either one of us,” Padilla said. “I think it would have been a better game for us if the wind would have been down. We weren’t able to do the things we normally do.”
TMP moved to 0-5 with the loss. The Monarchs will try for their first victory on Thursday when they host Buhler at 4 p.m. at Bickle/Schmidt.