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Cooper Flores, left, flies in to battle Alamogordo defender Antonio Silva for the ball during the first half Thursday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Bulldog soccer team proved itself capable of hanging with one of the top teams in Class 5A this season. But thrown off in the second half by a one-minute scoring barrage by the Tigers of Alamogordo, the ‘Dogs ultimately came up short, 5-0.

That minute of chaos gave what had been a 2-0 game the appearance of being more lopsided than it was.

With 15:45 to go in the contest, Alamo was able to come through with its third goal of the night, and it unfortunately succeeding in throwing the ‘Dogs entirely off their game. Sensing that, the Tigers kept the pressure on and were rewarded with two more before the clock reached 14:44.

“We mentally slipped, and when we did, they took advantage of it,” head coach Phillip Jowers said today. “We lost our focus for a second, and they got in our heads.”

Artesia had started the contest strong defensively, limiting Alamo to a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes of the half – once again coming within two minutes of one another. But with just two shots on goal of their own to the Tigers’ nine, defensive was something the Bulldogs wanted not to be in the second half.

“We knew at halftime that we couldn’t just keep playing defense in this game, so we mixed some stuff up and made some changes,” said Jowers. “Where the kind of team right now that can win against a team like that, but you have to gamble a little bit, so we rolled the dice, and for the first 15 minutes of the second half, it was working. We were getting a lot more scoring opportunities.

“But once they scored that third goal, I think we became unsure of ourselves and what we were doing, and we just got mentally shaken.”

Once Artesia regained their composure, they were able to continue creating scoring opportunities, with Cooper Flores clanging one off the cross bar and Cesar Leyva coming up short on a penalty kick with 4:45 remaining in the bout.

“There were at least three to four times in the second half where we had shots on goal that should’ve been finished in the back of the net,” said Jowers. “So the way I look at it is, if we hadn’t allowed those three quick goals, that could easily have been a 3-2 win for us or a 3-3 tie.”

As it was, the ‘Dogs will at least be able to walk away with the knowledge that the game was in no way beyond their reach and build on that and an overall solid defensive performance from keeper Aaron Natera and company.

“I have a lot of respect for the Alamogordo program just because they have done a lot of things right,” said Jowers. “And they’re a great team. I have no doubt in my mind they’ll be in at least the semifinals of the state tournament.”

The Bulldogs (5-4), meanwhile, will now turn their sights to Deming and Chaparral, whom Artesia will host at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex.

“I’d like to have a few more of my starters back from injury for those games, and hopefully we’ll just keep learning from all of this,” Jowers said. “We’re looking to come out of this weekend with a pair of Ws and then go from there. But everything right now is just building up to district for us.”

The ‘Dogs will also be hosting a brisket sandwich tailgate from noon – 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased from any soccer booster or at Bulldog Pride in the Abo Shopping Center.