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Lady Bulldog sophomore defender Destiny Gonzales, right, battles a Hobbs forward for the ball during the first half Tuesday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

A slow first half and a few costly miscues cost the Lady Bulldog soccer team Tuesday evening in their home opener against Class 6A Hobbs at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex.

The Artesia girls struggled to put the Lady Eagles off their game in the opening 40 minutes, and the result was four goals that gave Hobbs the momentum en route to a 6-1 win.

“We know Hobbs is a good squad,” Lady Bulldog head coach Tim Trentham said today. “They always are. They’re really well coached and each one of their players is well-rounded tactically, skill wise, and with their athleticism, and when you have 11 across the board like that… we knew what was coming.”

The Eagles launched 13 shots on goal in the first half Tuesday, and when the Lady ‘Dog D did secure what looked to be a stop, they were hard pressed to clear the ball, giving Hobbs multiple chances.

Artesia was able to fight the Lady Eagles off through the first 11 minutes, but Hobbs logged its first goal with 28:45 on the clock on a shot that was blocked but squirted away and rolled over the goal line.

The Lady Eagles’ next three goals – at 15:43, 12:01 and 10:20 respectively – were all either a direct or indirect result of balls that were left in the middle or bounced off of other players and landed in frustratingly perfect position for a point-blank shot.

“The first half was just a really bad half for us,” said Trentham. “I thought we were being lazy across the board. We weren’t really working hard to stay in formation, we weren’t working hard to make sure we were helping one another out and covering for one another defensively, and we gave them too many opportunities to push the ball up our side of the field with a numbers advantage.

“We just didn’t stay behind the ball, and it cost us quite a few goals. It probably should’ve cost us more, and I think we were lucky to get out of that half down just 4-0.”

Trentham and assistant Vanessa Lopez had a chat with their athletes at the break, and it had noticeable effects, as the girls in orange came out stronger for the final 40.

“We really kind of told the girls about how unsuccessful we felt the half was and what we expected from them in the second half, and they made some changes,” said Trentham. “They played a lot more aggressive, and for the first 30 minutes of that half, it was 1-0 in our favor.”

With 30:16 on the clock, senior Elisa Cardenas sent a direct free kick sailing skillfully into the back of the net to make it 4-1, and the Lady Bulldogs did a better job of going toe to toe with Hobbs from there.

The Lady Eagles were able to tack on two more in trash time, however, with 8:55 and 3:01 to go in the match.

“One goal was just us being tired from pushing so hard that first 30 minutes, and the other was inexperience between the goal keeper I subbed in and our center-back, who is still kind of new,” said Trentham. “We just kind of handed those goals to them.”

With the loss, the Lady ‘Dogs move to 3-1 on the season, and it’s a defeat Trentham feels likely came at a good time for his team.

“It was kind of good to get our bubble burst a little bit,” said the coach. “I think we might have been a little too high on ourselves coming out of the tournament, and it was good to get back grounded.

“It’s exciting now because the girls can come into today’s practice and understand that they do have to work and everything’s not going to be OK if you just go out and give 75 percent. They know we’re going to demand more from them in practice.”

Artesia will have a week to prepare for its next outing at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Ruidoso, and Trentham says the focus will be on the little things that cost the squad against Hobbs.

Following Tuesday’s matchup, the Lady Bulldogs will travel to Santa Fe Sept. 1 for a 6 p.m. bout with Capital before heading to Portales at 3 p.m. Sept. 9 for a rematch with the Ramettes.

“We’re just going to get back to working on a lot of team stuff,” said Trentham. “We’re going to make sure we’re going at game speed in practice, work on our ball movement, transition and possession. Those are the things I think killed us a little bit in the game last night, because when we did have opportunities it was on transition, but we couldn’t capitalize on most of them.

“These next three games we have coming up are competitive games I think we can definitely win. Our slate is a little better spaced out this year so that we’re not playing hard opponents in a row and getting deflated, so there are some good opportunities for us to get confident again and get back to what was working for us in the tournament.”