Published: 3:09 pm, Wed. Oct. 4th, 2017Updated: 3:08 pm
With significant action in the form of scoring opportunities generally limited in the sport of soccer, momentum is often everything.
A little bit may have to sustain a team for a comparatively long time, and losing it can either be handled well or extremely poorly – there’s frequently no grey area there.
The Bulldog soccer team was the first to turn the tide in their direction Tuesday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, and the effect it had on the squad was obvious and immediate.
Unfortunately, District 4-AAAAA nemesis Roswell High would create a swing of their own early in the second quarter, and while the ‘Dogs by no means fell apart, they lost a bit of their previous spark. It turned out to be enough to give the Coyotes an opening and an eventual 2-1 win.
“I’m just glad we don’t only play them once,” head coach Phillip Jowers said today. “I’m glad we get another chance, because in my mind, that game was a 1-1 game.”
The ‘Dogs came out focused in their final first-round district bout, and with 16:43 off the first-half clock, they struck, as Cesar Leyva was able to get the ball to Ian Robson, who pounded it into the net to give Artesia a 1-0 lead.
The boys in orange and their fans were ecstatic, and that advantage would hold through the break as the Artesia defense fended off four shots on goal by the Coyotes.
Refreshed and refocused, the Bulldogs retook the field for the final 40 minutes intent on creating some breathing room. But in the seventh minute, they were whistled for a handball in the box, and Roswell was awarded what nine times out of 10 in high school soccer amounts to a free goal: a penalty kick.
Artesia keeper Aaron Natera had blocked a PK Saturday versus Lovington and very nearly did so again. But the ball glanced off his outstretch hands and into the net to tie the game at 1-all.
“I feel like, mentally, we held up a lot better than we have in the past when they got that penalty kick,” said Jowers. “We didn’t just turn around and let them score again on us right away, and that’s something we’ve done in the past.
“So I was pretty pleased with the way they kind of stood their ground mentally, but you could definitely see a shift in the momentum for sure when they got that tying goal. Had they not scored that, I think it would’ve been a completely different game.”
The Coyotes were able to take advantage of a few miscues to create the game-winning opportunity in the final seconds of the 18th minute.
“I think we could’ve done better defensively and offensively with our overall play,” said junior Tomas Gonzales. “But I think we learned that we have to make simple passes and make our runs more diagonal.”
The loss brought an unfortunate end to what the ‘Dogs had hoped could be an unbeaten run through the first round of district play, but with a record of 8-8-1, 2-1 in D4, the squad still has plenty of incentive going into Round 2, which begins Tuesday versus Goddard in Roswell.
They also have the valuable knowledge that they’re capable of winning against the perennial favorite Coyotes.
“I think with this loss, we have more motivation to beat them at home whenever we do play them,” said Gonzales.
“For years, it’s been ‘We’ve gotta beat this time’ for us, and I feel like going into these games now in district, people are looking at us and saying ‘We’ve gotta beat them,’” Jowers said. “And hopefully that mentality will carry over for us. Hopefully the guys realize that they can do this.”