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After coming up just short of Class 4A third-ranked Santa Teresa in their season opener Aug. 18, the Bulldog soccer team took to the highway again this weekend looking to prove themselves.

They took a significant step in that direction Saturday against Belen, defeating the Eagles by a final of 3-0 to even their early-season record.

“The guys looked good,” head coach Phillip Jowers said following the contest. “They definitely looked better than the first game, and I think one of the things that’s helping is that we have a lot of competition on the varsity squad this year. So it’s pushing the boys to push themselves even more.

“The things we identified as things we had struggled with in the first game we tried to adjust against Belen, and we started improving on those areas.”

Artesia wasted no time jumping on the Eagles, scoring within the first 35 seconds of the game on a goal by John Baca off the assist from Darius Bishop.

The ‘Dogs added a second goal prior to the half when an attempt by Cooper Flores careened off the post and was put back in by David Anaya.

The boys in orange rounded out the final midway through the second half on a goal by Carlos Martinez, who maneuvered his way through the Belen defense for the solo shot.

“There were so many other opportunities for us to put it in, as well,” said Jowers. “We were literally inches away from putting more goals into the back of the net. They just weren’t getting there for us.”

Artesia will hope to finish a few more Tuesday, when they host Class 5A Hobbs at 6 p.m. in their 2018 home opener at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex. The Eagles are currently 2-1, having bested Santa Teresa (2-1 in overtime) and Gadsden (3-1) and fallen to Alamogordo (4-2).

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Jowers said. “Hobbs is always tough, and they’re somebody we know we always have to show up against. But for right now, we’re just going from game to game, trying to do our best as we move forward through the season.

“We’re definitely coming together as a team. As we continue to grow closer, that chemistry will become better and better, but right now, we’re playing well together.”