Great Bend forward Francisco Garcia was on fire, matching the 94-degree heat at Cavanaugh Field.
Garcia converted a hat trick to spark the Panthers past Hays High 4-0 in Tuesday's Western Athletic Conference soccer match. The Panthers (4-2, 1-1 WAC) play Manhattan Thursday at home.
Every time the Panthers enjoyed a scoring opportunity, Garcia was in the middle of it. Leading scorer Jesus "Chiny" Sanchez started the victory with the opening goal (26:33).
It was Garcia's night to shine after that point, thanks to Sanchez's creativity. Garcia and Sanchez worked together for two more first-half goals by Garcia at the 16:42 and 13:27 mark for a 3-0 halftime lead.
"Everything that we've worked with Francisco in practice he's implementing in games," said Great Bend coach Jesus Loera. "He's enjoying success because he's making good choices and playing smarter. He's understanding his role better. He's more consistent with his decisions."
Garcia finished off his perfect night with a closing goal (24:59) for a 4-0 victory. Goalie Daniel Cervantes turned back a couple of quality shots to preserve the shutout. Defender Angel Razo anchored the backline defense and triggered solid passing to the midfield.
The Panthers dominated time of possession with superb touch passing that kept the pressure on the Indians (2-5, 0-2 WAC).
"Chiny Sanchez demands a lot of defensive attention, but we've expanded his role to bring the defense in," Loera said. "It's opening up opportunities for our other offensive players. He's buying into that."
Loera liked how the Panthers stuck to their game plan of working together with touch passing.
"We kept working together. We stayed with our game plan, which was pleasing," Loera said. "We showed maturity and showed good poise."
LIBERAL 2, GREAT BEND 0 — Liberal scored two second-half goals for a 2-0 victory Thursday. The Panthers played most of the second half a man down after a red card was passed out. Liberal goalie Levi Flores kept the Panthers scoreless.
Yahir Salazar deflected a shot into the net for Liberal’s first goal. Estevan Dominguez scored the second goal off a free kick from 30 yards.
Liberal 3-0 4-2
Dodge City 3-1 7-2
Garden City 2-2 5-3
Great Bend 2-2 5-4
Hays High 0-5 2-9
Garden City at Great Bend, 4 p.m.
Hays-TMP at Liberal
Junction City at Hays High
*Liberal at Hays High
*Dodge City at Garden City
LIBERAL (4-2, 3-0)—Titan Classic (W Wichita Carroll 1-0; L Derby 2-0; L Dodge CIty 2-3, OT); *Great Bend 2-0; W Dodge City 3-1; W Garden City 3-0; W Lamar, Colo. 10-0; 10-1—Hays-TMP; 10-3—*at Hays High; 10-8—*Garden City; 10-10—*at Hays High; 10-14-19—Wichita North Cup; 10-21—*at Great Bend; 10-24—*Dodge City
DODGE CITY (7-2, 3-1)—Titan Classic (W Wichita East 3-1; L Wichita Heights 3-4, OT; W Liberal 3-2, OT); W Wichita South 9-1; W Lamar, Colo. 9-1; L *Liberal 1-3; W *Hays 4-0; W *Garden City 1-0; W *Great Bend 4-3; 10-3—*at Garden City; 10-8—*Hays High; 10-12—at St. Thomas Aquinas; 10-15—*Great Bend; 10-18—SM South; 10-19—Lawrence Free State; 10-24—*at Liberal
GARDEN CITY (5-3, 2-2)—Titan Classic (L Maize 4-3; W Wichita NW 4-3; W Hays 3-1); 9-12—*W Hays 2-1; 9-17—W TMP 10-0; 9-19—*L Liberal 0-3; L *Dodge City 0-1; W *Hays High 2-1; 10-1—*at Great Bend; 10-3—*DODGE CITY; 10-8—*at Liberal; 10-10—*Great Bend; 10-14-17-19—at Wichita North Cup; 10-21—TMP
GREAT BEND (5-4, 2-2)—Titan Classic (L Wichita Southeast 2-3; W Wichita South 4-1; W Wichita West 6-0); W Salina Central 4-0; *Liberal, L 0-2; *Hays, W 4-0; Manhattan L 1-2, OT; W *Hays 2-0; L *Dodge City 3-4; 10-1—*Garden City; 10-8—at Hays-TMP; 10-10—*at Garden City; 10-14—at Wichita Independent; 10-15—*at Dodge City; 10-21—*Liberal; 10-24—McPherson
HAYS HIGH (2-9, 0-5)—W Wichita Independent 4-1; W Classical 4-2; Titan Classic (L Classical 1-2; W Circle 10-0; L Garden City 1-2); L Salina Central 0-3 L *Great Bend 0-4; L *Dodge City 0-4; L *Great Bend 0-2; L Buhler 0-5; L *Garden City 1-2; 10-1—Junction City; 10-3—*Liberal; 10-8—*at Dodge City; 10-10—*Liberal; 10-22—Wichita Independent; 10-24—at TMP