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

Through 50 minutes of soccer Tuesday in Roswell, the Lady Bulldogs were within reach of the District 4-AAAAA win they desperately needed. Then came the 10th minute of the second half.

That’s when Goddard scored the game’s first goal, which in itself would have been only a minor setback. But four minutes later, disaster struck when the ball deflected off an Artesia defender’s foot in front of the goal.

The Lady ‘Dog keeper, unsure whether her teammate or the opponent had last touched the ball, hesitated while trying to decide whether to kick or pick it up. By the time the defender was able to yell an instruction, the kick was missed and the ball rolled slowly into the net.

The Artesia girls were stunned. And the Lady Rockets took full advantage, firing in two more goals in the following four minutes to round out the final, 4-0.

“We were just emotionally crushed that an own-goal had put the game nearly out of reach, and those last two goals were just a result of emotional defeat on our part,” head coach Tim Trentham said today. “We were in a state of shock.”

The bizarre turn of events was unfortunate considering the Lady ‘Dogs’ solid play in the opening half. Artesia came out determined to avenge a 3-2 loss to the Rockets Oct. 8 at The Mack and matched up well with Goddard in the first 40.

“They had a little bit more of the pressure, but through the middle part of the first half, it was a pretty even game,” Trentham said. “The game was stretched out enough that we were able to capitalize on pressure up top. We got shots on goal, we got looks, they got looks. We were playing well.”

After tying with Lovington Oct. 15 on the road, the Lady Bulldogs needed a win Tuesday to improve their stance with the NMAA state seeding and selection committee. As it stands, their overall record of 8-7-1 is solid but precarious when it comes to the ever-baffling seeding process.

Artesia will have one last chance to pick up a ninth win at 1 p.m. Saturday as they host the Roswell High Lady Coyotes.

“We just need to finish strong,” said Trentham. “This is potentially the last game of the season for us. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the postseason, so we just have to end on a high note and give everything we have. You want to go out with a statement.

“We always play Roswell hard at the end of the season anyway. We’ve had double-overtime finishes, PKs go to the 10th shooter… it’s always real intense, so we’ll have no problem getting up for that game, it’s just a matter of can they kind of come out of the funk from what we experienced yesterday, because a lot of them really took that loss hard.”

The public is encouraged to turn out Saturday and support the Artesia girls in their final home bout.

“On top of the injuries we’ve suffered this year and the Lovington game kind of catching them off guard, it’s been a snowball effect here toward the end of the season,” Trentham said. “We’re just kind of limping to the finish line, and that’s not where you want to be at this time. You want to be peaking, and we peaked too early in the season and weren’t able to gain that back.

“We just want to play the way we know we can on Saturday. We want to see the girls play with all their heart, and you never know what can happen. And then you just go from there.”