Published: 2:18 pm, Sun. Aug. 28th, 2016Updated: 2:15 pm
If there’re two things Lady Bulldog head coach Tim Trentham isn’t short on this season, it’s numbers and overall experience.
A total of 22 players are rotating in for the Lady ‘Dogs on varsity, and the team returns eight of its starters from 2015. But there’s still, as has often been the case, one primary word that describes the Artesia girls: young.
“We have a lot of youth,” Trentham said Saturday. “We only have two senior starters this year, and we have three starting freshmen. But with that, there’s going to be a lot of continuity, because we have juniors and sophomores that are the meat of our varsity.”
The annual Goddard Invitational at the start of the season is often a trial by fire for the Lady Bulldogs, and over the past few years, their first-game kinks have tripped them up. But this year, the squad finished with a record of 2-1 and third-place hardware, proving themselves a bit further along early in the year than teams past.
“We did better than expected in the tournament,” said Trentham. “We haven’t placed in that tournament for several years, so I was pretty pleased with that.”
With a 5-0 loss to Hobbs also behind them that saw Artesia compete well in the first half with their 6A opponent, the Lady ‘Dogs are now preparing to host their home opener Tuesday against Ruidoso at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex. They’ll welcome Capital at 5 p.m. Friday, and Trentham hopes the two outings will help his team continue to build the chemistry they’ll need as the season moves forward.
“We’ve had a new formation we’re playing in this year, just based on our overall skill set from individual players,” Trentham said. “Our defense is pretty much all brand new. We have one player returning to their position, one we moved from the outside to the inside, and two new outside defenders; so three defensive players in positions they’re not used to.
“Offensively, we’re just looking to be smarter and not be so predictable. We’re really looking to focus on having a lot of diversity in our attack and to make it where defenses aren’t able to recognize what we’re doing every time. So right now, we’re working on those things and just overall team chemistry, playing as one solid unit instead of individuals or groups.”
Despite their inexperience, the 2015 Lady ‘Dogs had a solid shot at advancing to the playoffs but came up short in the end by way of a 2-1 loss to Goddard in double-overtime and a season-ending loss to Roswell, whom they needed to beat in order to earn second place in District 4-AAAAA.
This year, they’re hoping not to leave it to last-minute necessities.
“We felt like last year we had a really good chance to move past district,” said Trentham. “So we just want to make sure our players stay focused the entire season and that when we get to the end, we don’t expend ourselves in any one game.
“Last year when we played Goddard, I think we just spent ourselves emotionally and physically, so we’re looking to stay solid all through the season, bounce back from any loss, and always be better after any win. If we can put it together at the end, hopefully we’ll be peaking at the right moment toward the end of the season.”
Following their two home contests this week, the Lady Bulldogs will host Portales Sept. 10 before hitting the road to take on Clovis Sept. 13. They’ll return to The Mack Sept. 15 to face Alamogordo, followed by a round robin with Santa Teresa and Deming Sept. 17 at home.
“We’re always excited for every season,” Trentham said. “We always have high hopes, and hopefully, we’re able to get our players to really want to be a solid team and do better than the team did the season before.
“We’re looking to have two successful games this week and hopefully get ahead in the win-loss column before we have some more tough matches against Clovis, Alamogordo and Carlsbad.”