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Zailor Lopez refuses to be denied, collecting her own rebound and putting it into the back of the net during the first half Saturday against Santa Teresa at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Lady Bulldog soccer team’s play this weekend at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex may not always have been as clean as head coach Tim Trentham would have liked – but there’s something to be said for being a bit off and still coming away with a pair of wins over same-class opponents.

The Artesia girls defeated Chaparral 7-1 Friday, then capped off the double header with a 3-0 victory over Santa Teresa Saturday to improve to 6-4 on the year, 6-1 against Class 4A competition.

The Lady ‘Dogs got off to a bit of a slow start Friday against Chaparral but were able to overcome their glitches en route to a six-goal win.

“We were playing pretty sloppy, unfortunately,” Trentham said Saturday. “I thought we could’ve played a lot better.

“Sometimes when you play opponents that aren’t quite to your caliber, you kind of play down, and that’s what we did yesterday. They were very aggressive and were quick to everything, and we just played in panic mode for some reason.”

The girls in orange were able to build a 3-0 lead by halftime, however, and rounded it out in the final 40 minutes, thanks to a Zailor Lopez hat trick, two goals from Loreli Perches, and one apiece by Kyrstyn Graham and Jannell Soto.

Artesia was also a bit out of sorts in the opening 40 minutes of Saturday’s bout with Santa Teresa but were able to get on the board before the break, thanks to a hard-fought goal by Lopez, who battled through a blocked first shot to fire in a second at the 29:28 mark.

“The first half, I thought we were still kind of playing very similarly to the way we played yesterday – just not being confident when we were on the ball,” Trentham said. “We were getting to the ball, but then we’d immediately just play it forward, like kickball, and that’s not the style I want us to be playing.”

The Lady Bulldogs came out more aggressive in the second half, however, and were able to control the tempo more seamlessly. Midway through, Perches sent the team’s second goal in from the top of the box, and with 15 minutes to go in the contest, Sadi Butler rounded out the final.

Artesia finished with 18 shots on goal on the day to Santa T.’s four.

“Santa Teresa is a better team, and I thought the second half we finally started to play a lot better,” said Trentham. “Our defense was kicking the ball up, looking for passing options, and our midfield was playing the ball much better. Our forwards weren’t trying to turn and do all the work and were looking to play off each other and the midfield, so that started giving us a lot of better looks.”

Moving forward, Trentham says he’ll be stressing the importance of ball control to his athletes.

“We’re not possessing the ball as well as we need to,” said the coach. “We’re forcing things a lot, which makes every line just chase forward. Then we get frustrated because of the lack of possession. We’re not letting the ball do the work, we’re forcing each other to do it, and it’s wearing us out.”

The Lady Bulldogs will have a chance to work on that versus some significant competition Tuesday when the Class 5A Cavegirls of Carlsbad come to town for a 6 p.m. bout.

“This will be a test of our will to just not let up,” said Trentham. “Out of all our opponents from that district, Carlsbad is the one team we usually want to battle with a lot more, and I just hope we don’t get frustrated early on, because Carlsbad’s going to attack and attack and attack, and we’ve got to be smarter than we were against Chaparral and Santa T.

“We can’t give up possession, because Carlsbad will make us pay for it. It’s got to be better soccer, better team play, and if we give our best performances and have everybody playing lights out, I think we can compete just fine.”