The Barton Community College men's soccer team trailed early and never recovered Thursday as No. 8 ranked Cloud County Community College handed the Cougars a 3-1 defeat at the Cougar Soccer Complex. The loss drops Barton to 3-3-1 in conference play, 4-3-1 in Region VI, and 8-5-1 on the season while the conference and region leading T-birds improve to 12-1 overall with 10-0 and 11-0 conference and region marks respectively. The Cougars' next action comes Saturday with a trip to Hesston College for a Region VI kick-off slated for 7:00 p.m.
Scoring the game in the teams' previous matchup in Concordia, Luiz Garcia was again a thorn in the Cougars' side netting his first collegiate hat trick in powering the T-bird victory. A costly Barton penalty in the box resulted in a strategy changing goal as Garcia buried the ensuing penalty kick to the heart of the net with 24:17 left on the first half clock.
Eight minutes into the second frame Garcia found the net again putting away Rafael Alkmin's long pass for what would prove to be the game winner.
Outshooting the T-birds 18-12 in the contest including a 9-7 edge towards frame, Barton cut the Cloud County deficit in half answering Garcia's goal less than four minutes later. Set up by Jose Escobedo's penetration inside the box, a flurry of activity ensued from a deflected cross including four shots in the box before Gabriel Arraes De Almeida was able to find a crease burying his second goal of the year.
As tempo and urgency of play picked up, both teams missed opportunities for the next thirty minutes until Garcia put the dagger in the Cougars with a rocket to near post for his 16th of the season with 3:33 remaining.
The loss was the second straight for Barton on their home turf against the T-birds as Cloud County extended their win streak in the series to five.
Despite the loss the Cougars control their destiny in a bid to host a first round playoff as Barton still has a home-and-home series remaining with its main seeding threat Northwest Kansas Technical College as the teams play October 18 at the Cougar Soccer Complex and the ensuing Monday, October 23, in Goodland, Kansas.