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Raina Wesson takes a shot on goal during the first half Tuesday at The Mack. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)

Raina Wesson takes a shot on goal during the first half Tuesday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Lady Bulldog soccer team didn’t know quite what to expect Tuesday in their District 4-AAAAA opener against Lovington at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex.

“We were a little nervous about this one, because Lovington appeared to be pretty solid,” head coach Tim Trentham said today. “Looking at their record, they’d been able to keep games pretty close and also been able to score, so we weren’t sure what we were going to get from them.”

The anticipation level only rose when the game was delayed an hour due to Lovington’s bus breaking down en route to Artesia. They were rescued highway-side by one of the Bulldog buses.

But despite competing a bit shorthanded, the Lady ‘Dogs came out strong Tuesday, establishing control early and maintaining possession through the\ majority of the bout. That aggressiveness resulted in a 2-0 win that gets Artesia’s district campaign off to a positive start.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Trentham said. “We controlled the pace of the game and had a lot of good possession, and that really helped us out. We weren’t really threatened much defensively, and what we were threatened with, we were able to handle fairly well.”

The Artesia girls took 10 shots on goal in the opening half, with Sadi Butler making one count with 18:38 to go in the period. The Lady Bulldogs had other chances, with one shot just careening off the post at 14:25 and a second lost to a skillful save with under two minutes on the clock. But on top just 1-0 at the break, they knew insurance would be needed.

That came courtesy of Elisa Cardenas just over halfway through the final 40 minutes, and Artesia was able to fend off a late charge by Lovington to preserve the 2-0 final.

“It got a little scary towards the end, because Lovington had a little bit of a push,” Trentham said. “They got a penalty kick with 6:45 left on the clock but missed, and they had another free kick outside the box and a corner within about three minutes.

“But we were able to fend that off and get the win.”

Another scary moment came with just under 11 minutes left to play when Lady Bulldog freshman Taylin Lopez went down with an injury after heading a ball. She was taken from the field by ambulance to Artesia General Hospital, where her tests were reportedly negative.

With the win, the Lady ‘Dogs improve to 8-4 on the season, 1-0 in district play, as they prepare to host perennial rival Goddard at 1 p.m. Saturday at The Mack.

“It’s big,” Trentham said. “Goddard is a powerhouse like they’ve been the last few years with that big group of girls that’s played together for so long, but we’ve played them in some tight matches. Last year, they beat us 7-0 at their tournament at the beginning of the year and then we went double overtime with them in district at home, so it’s not beyond what we can do to compete with them.

“But being as thin as we are with injuries, we’re really going to have to ask everybody to step up now. We’ve already been doing that the past several weeks, but now it has to be clear to everybody on the field that it really isn’t a cliché to say we might have to leave everything out there to get done what needs to get done, because we just don’t have a lot of subs that can play against that quality of competition. So it’s going to have to be 80 minutes of everything we’ve got.”