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John Baca sends the ball forward past a Lovington defender during Artesia’s second overtime session against the Wildcats Saturday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

For five minutes Saturday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, it looked as though the District 4-AAAA match between Artesia and Lovington was shaping up to be an offensive shootout of epic proportions.

Just 51 seconds into the contest, the Bulldogs put a goal in the back of the net, taking the ball off the kickoff and quickly earning a corner kick. That ball, off the foot of Kolton Jorren, was headed past the Wildcat keeper by Ian Robson to give Artesia a 1-0 lead.

The celebration would be short-lived, as around the four-minute mark, a handball in the box resulted in a penalty kick for Lovington. Another burst of joy, meanwhile, as Bulldog goalie Aaron Natera blocked the shot was also cut short when the ‘Cats scored from the 18 off the resulting corner kick.

The loops in the emotional rollercoaster would flatten out from there – unfortunately for good.

For the remainder of regulation, plus two 10-minute sessions of overtime, neither the ‘Dogs nor the ‘Cats could hit the net. And the result was a 1-1 tie that places Artesia at 0-1-1 in early district play.

“We went from the highest high of scoring that fast right back down when they tied it up, and from then on, we just weren’t able to finish our offensive opportunities,” head coach Phillip Jowers said Saturday.

Artesia would create precious few chances to break the tie in the remainder of the first half but had a number of opportunities in the second.

A direct free kick in the 12th minute sailed just over the crossbar, two corner kicks went un-capitalized upon, and a few other chances were negated by fouls.

“I feel like in the last 20 minutes of the game, there was definitely more pressure coming from us than from them,” Jowers said. “And for the overtime, I felt like there was absolutely no pressure from them. There was just opportunity after opportunity for us to finish it.”

An attempt by John Baca in the third minute of the first OT session was blocked, a header off a corner kick sailed wide, and a shot on goal in the fifth minute was saved, sending the game on to 2-OT.

There, the Bulldogs had perhaps their best chance of all to notch the win when, in the final seconds, a shot on goal by Jacob Martinez was blocked and the ball bounced in front of the net just inside the east post. Three ‘Dogs were there with a chance to get a foot on it but missed.

“The opportunities were there, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” said Jowers. “It was frustrating, but the tie definitely makes the way district is going to play out more interesting. We knew going into this game that the district was pretty evenly matched.”

The Bulldogs will head to Portales Tuesday with a chance to finish the first round with one’s across the board, and the team will need to put their scoring shoes on if they want to put themselves in solid contention in the second round.

“We were really pressing at the end of this game, and that’s good, because we need to be emotionally hyped when we go to Portales on Tuesday,” said Jowers. “We need to put up some numbers and kind of make up the deficit in goals that got put on us against Goddard.

“Portales lost to Lovington 4-1, so if you look at score lines, there’s no reason we shouldn’t win Tuesday. No reason we shouldn’t score goals. We just have to make sure we get it done.”