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After turning in one of their best efforts in recent memory against Class 6A Hobbs Tuesday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, the Lady Bulldog soccer team hit the road Friday seeking continued improvement against Capital and Santa Fe High.

And while they were thrown a bit of a curve right off the bus after learning Capital expected to compete two hours earlier than Artesia had scheduled, they settled in, found their rhythm, and returned home Saturday evening with a pair of wins under their belt, 5-3 and 3-1 respectively.

“This was a great weekend for us,” head coach Tim Trentham said Saturday. “We’re starting to really click now. We think this is all around one of the better squads we’ve had, and we’re very excited about this group.”

The Lady ‘Dogs came out a bit sluggish for their early start against Class 5A Capital Friday, falling behind 3-2 at the half, but were able to turn things around in the second 40 minutes.

“We just weren’t mentally ready to be playing,” Trentham said. “It was also raining, and we’ve never really played a game on turf in rain like that, so we weren’t handling some of the funny things the ball was doing.

“We gave up a goal early on, got back even, and then gave up a second goal when their sweeper kicked from the opposite side, it hit the wet turf, and just skipped like a stone and caught our keeper off guard. Then they had a free kick and were able to get up 3-1 on us, but we managed to get a second one in before the half.”

Artesia made a few adjustments at the break, and they quickly made a difference.

“We played a much better second half,” said Trentham. “We discussed a few things at halftime, we were more ready, and it was pretty much a 180 turn for us. We contained any kind of offensive threat they had, and I think we had two goals within the first 10 minutes of the half. We just got up and stayed up, then finished it off with a fifth goal in the last 15 minutes of the game.”

Elisa Cardenas logged a hat trick for Artesia, with Raina Wesson and Taylin Lopez scoring one apiece.

Cardenas and Wesson put the Lady ‘Dogs up 2-0 at the half in Saturday’s game against Santa Fe, and while the Lady Demons were able to pull within one with around 10 minutes to go in the game, the Artesia girls hunkered down to preserve the win.

“After their goal, they were kind of in panic mode trying to throw everything forward, and it ended up costing them,” Trentham said. “We were able to capitalize with another goal from Elisa with five minutes left to put the game away.”

With the pair of wins, the Lady Bulldogs improved to 4-3 on the season and showed yet again that they’re coming into their own as a young yet talented team.

“All the work we’ve put in on defense, changing things up and really focusing on teaching them some new things, we’re starting to reap the rewards of that,” said Trentham. “And offensively, our two powerhouses up top, Elisa and Raina, are just so in sync with one another right now.

“They’re playing fantastic, and all of our role players everywhere else are doing a great job of being part of the attack, too. It’s not just defense and offense – the link between the two is starting to really come together.”

The Lady ‘Dogs will have another test Tuesday when the Class 6A Cavegirls of Carlsbad come to town for a 6 p.m. game at The Mack.

“It’s Carlsbad, but you can’t let the hype behind them get you into the game already down,” Trentham said. “We have to go out there and play as hard as we can. We’ve had great matches in the past, it just depend on how we approach it.

“This group is different. They’re not afraid to take on any competition, so we’re just looking to have a great game. I think as long as we can keep the field stretched out so we’re not just playing on our end of the field, we should be fine. We think this group has some great potential, and we’re looking forward to Tuesday.”