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For a program under construction, sometimes the real wins aren’t corresponded by the scoreboard.

While the plus column is of obvious significant, when it comes to young teams with limited experience, the sign of a spark is the primary goal – something that says it’s all clicking, that the hard work and preparation are translating to the on-field performance.

Bulldog soccer coach Phillip Jowers saw that spark Thursday in Alamogordo.

In a game disjointed a bit by lightning delay, the ‘Dogs battled a Class 6A Tiger squad that had mercy-ruled them 10-0 in 2015 to just a 1-0 deficit at the half. And while Alamo was able to score twice more in the second 40 minutes, their 3-0 final tally was hard-won.

“I told them after the game that this was probably the best game they’ve played since I’ve been head coach,” Jowers said Thursday from the road. “This was the most complete, physical game I’ve seen from them.”

Trailing 1-0 as intermission approached, the first lightning strike deemed near enough to warrant a delay came just prior to the half, leaving it briefly up in the air whether the contest would continue. Lightning rules allow for a contest to be called at the half if the officials determine the danger is unlikely to subside. But, following the mandatory 30-minute hiatus, it was determined the second half could continue.

Alamogordo added its second goal on a penalty kick but would not notch its third until the final eight minutes of the game.

“The boys never gave up,” Jowers said. “They were going down on injuries, and they just kept playing through and kept on fighting. That was the biggest thing.”

Senior captain Alex Ruiz was also impressed with his team’s play Thursday.

“I’ve been playing with this group of kids for about three years now, and I’ve never seen them play as solid as they played tonight,” Ruiz said. “Our team is really learning how to play together. We’re just playing a lot better and being there for each other.”

The ‘Dogs are now hoping to carry their vastly improved performance over into a marathon end to their already-long week as they take on Santa Teresa at 11 a.m. and Deming at 1 p.m. Saturday in Chaparral.

“We just need to practice hard tomorrow and keep up what we’re doing right now, because it’s working for us,” Ruiz said.