The Dodge City Red Demons boys soccer team beat the Wichita-East Blue Aces 3-1 Thursday night, winning their regional bracket.
It was the third straight time the Red Demons have won their regional.
Even before kickoff, it was clear the elements would be a factor. The wind blew heavily to south through the stadium, making passes and shots sail. Of the four goals scored Thursday night, all of them were into the south net.
The first came in the first half, when the Blue Aces, defending the north goal, got on the board 1-0, a lead they took into halftime.
Then, in the second half with about 32 minutes left in regulation, Dodge City senior midfielder Eddie Del Toro took a free kick near midfield and blasted it into the net, beating the Blue Aces’ goalkeeper. That made the game 1-1, a score that held until senior Omar Estrada scored off a corner kick.
That goal, with about six minutes left, gave the Red Demons a 2-1 lead, their first of the night, and it proved to be the game-winner. Estrada said that goal was his favorite part. The team worked hard for it, he said.
“I’m just glad to be able to be there to score the goal and give the team the win,” Estrada said.
The team overcame the Blue Aces, the time trailing and the elements by staying together, Estrada said.
“We knew we were capable of turning this game over and we did,” Estrada said. “We just stuck together and got the win.”
Red Demons head coach Saul Hernandez said the win was special. The team knew the objective and that they would get scoring opportunities. There was also some sacrifice from the boys, including Estrada.
“Omar had two goals that he put his head in where there was a lot of traffic, where he sacrificed getting a bloody-nose for it,” Hernandez said.
As the team gets ready for state, Thursday’s win gives the guys confidence, Hernandez said.
“It shows that we can play in anything,” Hernandez said. “We can control the game, we can control the ball, possess well even with 35 mph winds. Against it I think we had a few opportunities, but we’ve come a long way this week. I think all of us grew up a little bit more.”
Dodge City moves on to face Topeka Washburn Rural in first-round state quarterfinals.
That game is scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday night in Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.