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The Bulldog soccer team continued to put the pieces together Tuesday in Carlsbad, battling the Cavemen through a scoreless first half before falling in the end, 3-0. But while any loss is frustrating, head coach Phillip Jowers continued to see signs that his squad is settling into their new system and building the components that will help them be successful in the long run.

“We put together a more complete game tonight,” Jowers said Tuesday. “We’re definitely getting better when it comes to getting onto the ball, getting it out of the air, and just playing more aggressively.”

While the ‘Dogs were on the defensive for the majority of the game, they were able to keep the scoreboard clean through the first 50 minutes of play. The Cavemen would find the back of the net 10 minutes into the second half, however, on a header off the cross.

From there, Carlsbad picked up its second goal with around 20 minutes left to play on a penalty kick and booted in the third just three minutes later on a breakaway over the top.

The Cavemen outshot the Bulldogs 17-7 on the game, with keeper Aaron Natera posting 10 saves.

“He had a really good game,” Jowers said. “Being a ninth-grader, he plays amazingly well for as young as he is.”

Overall, Jowers said he was pleased with the steady improvement he’s seeing from his athletes.

“Our guys need to be able to stay composed in those situations where the game’s tough, but we’re progressing,” he said. “Each game, I’m seeing more and more improvement, which is a natural progression toward the direction we want to go with the program.

“We’re building a program and getting closer and closer to putting it all together.”

Defender Josh Valenzuela agrees.

“I thought we did a good job of playing together as a team and outhustling the other team,” said the senior captain. “We unfortunately lost this game, but we just need to keep our heads up, work harder in practice, and keep moving forward as a team.”

The ‘Dogs (1-6) will cap off their four-game road trip Tuesday with a 6 p.m. game at NMMI in Roswell and will be looking to see how the experience gained over the past few games has served them. Artesia fell to the Colts 6-4 Sept. 1 in Artesia.

“We’re looking forward to NMMI,” said Jowers. “We’re just going to work on the little things we need to focus on as far as movement off the ball and keeping our composure, and just working as a unit and as a team. We’ll be looking at putting some of the stuff we’ve built on over the past couple of games since we’ve seen them together, and hopefully getting a win.

“We’re a young team, but we’re playing well for our age. Hopefully we’ll be there by the time district comes around, and then we’ll make it count whenever it’s time.”