Two days removed from a grind-it-out type of victory against their rival from Garden City, the Dodge City Lady Demons soccer team had to turn around two days later and once again defend their home turf against a Western Athletic Conference squad hungry to give them their first conference loss of the year.


Two days removed from a grind-it-out type of victory against their rival from Garden City, the Dodge City Lady Demons soccer team had to turn around two days later and once again defend their home turf against a Western Athletic Conference squad hungry to give them their first conference loss of the year.
     Despite having two goals disallowed in the second half, the Demons thoroughly manhandled the visiting Great Bend Panthers by outshooting them and out-possessing them throughout the game to remain unbeaten in the WAC with a 2-0 win.
     “I got after them during halftime because I thought our intensity and level of play wasn’t as good as what we’ve been playing lately,” said head coach Virgil Hutchcraft. “Scarlett worked hard, and they were able to work the ball through to her and we finally got her free. We still need to work on communication and our shot selection. Too many times in that first half, we had wide open looks at goal, and we continued to pass the ball to the keeper.”
     Dodge City picked up goals from Hoy Lim at the 28th minute of the first half and a beautiful strike from sophomore Scarlett Real with just over one minute to play in the game.
     It was a breezy afternoon at Memorial Field, but thankfully the sweltering temperatures that had camped out over Dodge the past couple of days had subsided, giving clearance to a beautiful night for soccer.
     The Demons worked with the wind in the first half, constantly pressuring the Panther defense with deep balls to Lim and Real, the talented front line duo.
     With Great Bend going against the breeze and a stout Demon defense in the opening 40 minutes, their lack of offense allowed the Demons to build up wonderful shots on goal, but nothing seemed to connect. Overall in the first half, the Demons didn’t allow a single Panther shot at their goalkeeper while pummeling the Great Bend netminder with a barrage of bullets, waiting for one to sneak past.
     The gate finally opened for Dodge City with 12 minutes left to play in the first period, as the senior Lim worked her way deep inside the Panther penalty box. She was able to fend off a Great Bend defender and place her left foot on the ball and into the net, giving the Demons a one-goal advantage going into the locker room.

Playing against the wind
     Even though the second half consisted of the girls kicking the ball into a steady gust, the Demons had no problem controlling the ball for long chunks of the half. Just as was the case in the first half, Dodge City worked the ball around midfield, attempting to find one of their two forwards for a coveted second goal.
     However, each opportunity came up empty for the Demons, which was causing Hutchcraft to become quite nervous on the sideline. He knew all it would take is one slip up from his defense and they would be looking at a tie game.
     But that moment never happened.
     Eventually, with just over one minute to play, Scarlett Real broke through the Panther defense after being switched from the right side of the field to the left side — conveniently after being called over by Hutchcraft.
     She split the middle of the field and had just the goalie to beat as she blasted a rocket from point-blank range to the upper part of the goal, successfully nailing the coffin shut on the Panthers’ hopes of a comeback.
     With the win, Dodge City improves to 9-3 on the season and sits at 5-0 in the WAC, clearly in the driver’s seat for a league title. The Demons will finish off their season with a home game against Hays (senior night) and road games against Garden City and Liberal.
     “We just want to finish the season strong, and we’re going to keep the mentality of being 1-0 after every game,” Hutchcraft said. “Long term, we need to keep winning because right now we’re fourth in our region, and we want to sneak in and take that third spot.”
     Now the Demons will prepare for a trip to Wichita on Tuesday to take on Heights, a team with a talented goal scorer who gave Dodge City problems when they faced the Falcons a year ago.
     “They will probably have a little more speed up top than we’re used to, but if we can stay solid on defense, we should be all right,” Hutchcraft said. “We’ve gotten a level of maturity, even in our freshmen now. We’ve got the confidence to do it.”
     The junior varsity, which defeated Great Bend 1-0 to remain unbeaten in the WAC as well, will begin the action against Heights on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The varsity is slated to go at 5:30 p.m.