Jesus Mendez (12) looks for an opening around Ark City’s Jonathan Torres (13) and Yusef Gonzalez Tuesday in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs. Liberal won 10-0. L&T photo/Earl Watt
By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
There was only one way Liberal coach Lori Navarro could keep Eduardo Moreno from scoring Tuesday night at Redskin Field — take him out of the game.
Moreno saw limited action in the first round playoff game against Ark City, and he still managed to score seven goals in a 10-0 mercy-rule win over Ark City to open the post-season and advance the Redskins to the South Central Region 3 championship Thursday at Redskin Field.
The Redskins will host Wichita West after the Pioneers upset Andover Central in their first round opener Tuesday. After a tie game, Wichita West scored three penalty kicks to Andover Central’s two for the win.
But for Navarro, the focus was not on who was next but on the team at Redskin Field. That focus turned out to be bad news for Ark City.
“Ark City is not horrible,” Navarro said. “They were not easy. We just finally had things together.”
Those “things” included the ability to finish the scoring opportunity when it presented itself.
Last week in the Western Athletic Conference finale against Dodge City, the Redskins missed several easy opportunities before winning 1-0 in overtime.
No overtime was needed Tuesday. In fact, there was still nine minutes on the clock when the game came to an end after Jose Covarrubias scored the 10th goal for the Redskins.
The Redskins moved the ball with ease against Ark City, executing the sweep offense to perfection. Passes were received my Redskin forwards in stride, setting up multiple one-on-one opportunities with the Ark City goalkeepers.
Sometimes, the Redskins would simply dribble the ball in from the side to get scoring opportunities, weaving through Ark City defenders and taking shots.
The scores came early and often for the Redskins, and Navarro started to make substitutions midway through the first half.
Jason Rios received a pass from Moreno and scored the first goal 84 seconds into the game. Moreno then scored the next five goals in the next 26 minutes to give the Redskins a 6-0 lead.
Isai Gutierrez added the final goal of the first half with a straight-on shot for the 7-0 lead.
Liberal didn’t get as many scoring opportunities early in the second half, and when they did the clanked the ball off the top crossbar of the goal six times before Moreno returned for a few more minutes of action and scored two quick goals in three and a half minutes to give the Redskins a 9-0 lead.
Ark City attempted to at least make the Redskins play the entire game, but Covarrubias took a shot with 9:12 to play that hit the goalkeepers hands but pushed him back into the goal. The ball deflected to the side and across the line for the final score.
“This should build confidence for our guys,” Navarro said. “But this was just one game. There are four more. We have to take them one at a time.”
Liberal will host Wichita West at 6 p.m. Thursday at Redskin Field for the South Central Region 3 championship.