Dodge City Community College’s Bernard Cutting Alvarenga turned around and smiled at the crowd in the waning minutes of Sunday’s match vs. the Garden City Broncbusters.
The smile was earned — his team was leading by two goals with less than 10 minutes left at Broncbuster Stadium, and his acting had just gotten Buster star Lyle Lakey sent off the pitch on a red card, all but ending the Busters’ furious comeback attempt in a 3-1 loss to potentially end the Busters’ season, depending on the outcome of a Pratt-Northwest Kansas Tech makeup game.
A win would have have guaranteed the Busters (7-9-1, 4-7-1) a spot in the Region VI postseason tournament. Instead, they likely will be on the outside looking in if Pratt (7-8, 4-7) is able to handle a struggling Tech team.
GCCC head coach Scott Westbrook declined to answer any questions after the match, besides to state that they had "fought all game."
The Busters, using a stiff wind at their backs, mounted attack after attack in the second half, after a 3-0 halftime deficit, but it wasn’t until Lakey’s wonder strike in the 75th minute that they found a breakthrough.
That came off a free kick, and Lakey curled the strike into the top left corner of the goal, beating Dodge City goalkeeper Rafael Ribeiro Callegari, who otherwise made brilliant stop after brilliant stop, including a diving deflection of a Remi Emeraiu shot early in the second half that Callegari got just enough hand on to push past the post.
Lakey nearly beat him early in the second half when he dribbled down the left sideline, stuttered back to his right from 30 yards out and rocketed it to the near post — but it hit the frame.
The Busters never stopped pushing numbers up the field, however, and controlled the tempo and the ball for nearly all of the final 45 minutes — but with eight minutes to play, Lakey slide tackled a Dodge City player, resulting in a foul.
Lakey turned around, seemingly going for the ball after the whistle had signaled the foul, and his foot looked to catch Alvarenga around the face. Alvarenga immediately started flopping on the ground and grabbing his face.
Lakey reacted as though he had caught Alvarenga with his cleat, and appeared to check on Alvarenga — but it was too late. Lakey was booked for a red card, and sent off the pitch. As the referee was booking Lakey, Alvarenga bounced up, turned away from the ref and smiled to a group of Dodge City fans in the stands.
It was clear he had faked an injury to draw the card on Lakey. He had succeeded, and the Busters were down a man with very little time left and two goals down.
They were not going to be able to find an equalizer to save their season as they lost their sixth match in eight tries.
Dodge City improved to 10-4-2 and 7-3-2, qualifying for the Region VI postseason as the third seed in the West.