. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For the first 40 of their 160 minutes of soccer Saturday in Chaparral, the Bulldog soccer team looked, as head coach Phillip Jowers put it, “like they’d just been on a bus for two hours.”

The ‘Dogs struggled to get anything going against the Desert Warriors of Santa Teresa and were down 2-0 at the half.

“We knew going into that game that Santa Teresa was going to be a tough team,” Jowers said Saturday. “We just came out flatfooted, and they took advantage of that. We were also playing without one of our starters, which we didn’t know about until that morning, so we had to kind of tweak our formation a little bit.

“That just added to the adversity our team had to overcome, but I think our guys did a good job of stepping up, playing in those positions, and filling that void.”

The Artesia boys began to look a bit more in control as the second half progressed, but the Warriors were able to find the back of the net twice more to round out their 4-0 victory.

The ‘Dogs wouldn’t dwell, however, building on their momentum and coming out strong in their second bout of the day against Deming.

“They were there,” said Jowers of his athletes. “We looked like the team we saw against Carlsbad and Alamogordo.”

Deming would take a 1-0 lead into the half in that outing, but Artesia looked poised to tie with a penalty kick in the second.

“Deming’s goalkeeper made an amazing save,” said Jowers. “But within five minutes of having that penalty kick blocked, we scored our goal, and that was really good to see. A lot of times, when you get a penalty kick, you think, ‘Oh great, we’re going to get a goal,’ so then to have it blocked is tough.

“I was glad to see the boys hang tough and glad to see them show the mental and physical strength to fight back and get that goal to tie it.”

Omar Avitia logged the tying goal for the Bulldogs. The game was left as a tie due to the fact Santa T. and Deming were considering the round robin affair a tournament, thusly eliminating overtime.

“It was good to see our guys were able to play 80 minutes, then turn around after a 30-minute break and play another 80,” said Jowers. “That’s a lot of soccer to be playing in the heat of the day, and I’m very proud that we hung in there.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much strength and conditioning it takes to play let alone 80 minutes of soccer but two back-to-back games.”

The Bulldogs (1-7-2) will now prepare to head south to Carlsbad Tuesday for Round 2 of the Eddy County War series. Artesia battled the Cavemen to a contentious 0-0 tie Sept. 8 at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex in a game called short due to a lack of official control over the on-field physicality.

The ‘Dogs will then have three more home matches against Portales, Hatch Valley and Ruidoso to prepare for their Oct. 4 start of District 4-AAAAA play.

“We’re working and getting progressively better, and we’re looking toward those district games,” said Jowers. “We’re trying to use everything up until now to progress. We have four more games till district, so we’re just going to work to keep the ball rolling and moving forward so when we come up against Roswell and Goddard and Lovington, we can try to get a few wins, take care of business, and move on.”