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Lady Bulldog sophomore Madisen Segura works to get in front of Clovis’s Annie Stone during the first half Thursday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

There was no rest for the weary Thursday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, as the Lady Bulldog soccer team returned from a road game against a quality Class 5A program to face another in their 2018 home opener.

Coming off of a 6-0 loss to Hobbs Tuesday in Eagle Country, the Artesia girls struggled in the first half Thursday against the Lady Wildcats of Clovis, falling behind 2-0 by the break and finding themselves hard-pressed to gain possession of the ball.

And although the girls in orange would give an improved performance in the final 40 minutes, they were never able to create the offensive opportunities they needed, falling by a final of 4-0.

“That first half, we were just way out of sync,” head coach Tim Trentham said today. “It was real rough.”

The Lady ‘Dogs had just a single solid shot on goal to Clovis’s 10 in the opening 40. Artesia’s defense was able to stave off the Lady ‘Cat attack until the midway point, when keeper Kamiley Marquez saved two rapid-fire shots but was unable to counter a third, putting Clovis up 1-0 with 22:21 to go.

The ‘Cats’ second goal of the half came in the final four minutes on a penalty kick.

“We had one really good opportunity on offense in the first half, and we should’ve converted that one,” Trentham said. “I think we missed an opportunity to kind of change the game a little bit. Getting up 1-0 would’ve made Clovis get a little bit too aggressive, and we might’ve been able to capitalize on the counter.”

Artesia had a pair of direct free kicks in the second half and one look at the net but was unable to produce. The Wildcats notched their final two goals of the game late on a shot with 11 minutes left on the clock and another PK with under two minutes to go.

“The second half was a little better as far as how we played,” Trentham said. “We played aggressively. We had a couple more opportunities and looks, but their defense was pretty good about getting them closed off.

“We also gave up two penalty kicks, which were pretty costly. I think both of those could’ve been avoided. The first one, our girl was just trying to step out so she didn’t get beat as the last defender, and the other, the last defender was beat and just got too physical trying to get back in front of their girl.”

The loss marked Artesia’s third straight after falling in the final round of the Goddard Invitational Aug. 25, and the Lady Bulldogs will be raring to get the sour taste out of their mouths Tuesday when Ruidoso comes to town.

“We’ve had three really tough games,” said Trentham. “We were missing both of our starting forwards at the tournament, so the loss to Goddard was a tough one because we weren’t at full strength. Then we come off that loss and have to turn around and play Hobbs; up there, one of my starters got sick right before the game and couldn’t go, and another got a red card.

“After those games, we had to change some things up defensively, because what we’d been doing up to that point just wasn’t as effective as it should have been. I think our defense played well last night, they just didn’t have the support they needed from our midfield to keep the pressure off. Our girls just weren’t winning enough 50/50 balls to make a difference at midfield, but those are things we’ll get shored up. We just have to find the right combination of girls in the middle.”

The Lady ‘Dogs saw Ruidoso in the opening round of the Goddard Invite last Friday, defeating them 7-0. Artesia and the Lady Warriors will kick off at 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Mack.

“I know that Ruidoso’s going to be better,” said Trentham. “But we’ll have our two forwards back that didn’t get to start that weekend, and hopefully, we’ll have a similar result and get a little bit of confidence back.

“The thing right now is just to keep these girls’ heads up. They’re down on themselves right now. We started off on a good high, expecting to have the same kind of season we had last year, and then we hit a speed bump with Goddard and these two 5A teams. But now we’re moving into the thicker part of our schedule, and we just have to tough it out.”