Published: 12:05 am, Sun. Oct. 20th, 2019
After going back and forth with Goddard through 40 minutes of play Saturday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, the Lady Bulldog soccer team knew they needed a big second half to get the win they needed over the girls in blue.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t materialize. Nor did a big first session of overtime. Nor a second.
In a frustrating turn of events in their penultimate District 4-AAAA game of the season, Artesia would wind up tied with the Lady Rockets for the second time in as many weeks, 2-2 in 2-OT. And while that result keeps the Lady ‘Dogs record at a solid 12-5-2 overall, 2-1-2 in district play, it doesn’t give them the W they needed to bring a district crown and a playoff spot closer into reach.
As it stands, should Goddard defeat Lovington Tuesday, they lock up the D4 title, the result of Artesia’s 4-3 loss to the Lady Wildcats Oct. 10.
What the Lady ‘Dogs can control, however, is capping off their 2019 second season with a big victory Oct. 26 over Lovington on the road.
Things seemed to be coming up roses for the girls in orange Saturday when junior Sadi Butler scored just over a minute into the game. The goal shocked Goddard and gave the Lady Bulldogs a quick burst of momentum.
But around 10 minutes later, the Lady Rockets would answer, and Artesia proceeded to miss out on a few opportunities to regain the lead that saw their frustration increasing.
With 17:40 to go in the half, the Lady ‘Dogs had the ball in front of an open net but no one there to follow up, and at 15:50, a penalty kick opportunity sailed high over the goal.
Goddard was able to take the lead with just under 13 minutes left in the opening 40, but Artesia evened things out with 2:08 on the clock with a penalty kick from Madeline Francis that found its mark.
“I thought we gave away too many opportunities in the first half,”
head coach Tim Trentham said Saturday. “Defensively, we weren’t as aggressive to the ball as we needed to be. Our defense just can’t seem to get in sync, and I know part of that is how hard it is for us to get on the same page with all the personnel changes we’ve made to make this season, but we had some big miscommunications, too.”
The 2-2 tie meant the teams would essentially be starting over in the second half, but through what eventually amounted to 60 more minutes of soccer, neither could gain the upper hand.
“Both teams had some pretty good looks in the second half, but nobody could capitalize on them,” Trentham said. “They had a good opportunity right towards the end of regulation, but [junior keeper] Gabby Grado made a great save. Then Sadi had a look with about three minutes left. She was taking it down the right side, but a defender just came and closed her off.
“She was being real physical with her and keeping her off balance, forcing her wide of the goal, and so the shot ended up going just to the right of the net. And in overtime, we were never really able to get any fantastic looks.”
While Artesia’s missed chances were frustrating, Trentham was pleased with the play of backup goalie Grado –who was thrust into the role Oct. 10 following a season-ending injury to starter Kamiley Marquez – which kept Goddard from making the Lady Bulldogs pay for their misses.
“This was her first real varsity start, and it came in a really competitive game,” said Trentham. “She did fantastic. She had two saves there at the end that kept us in it, so kudos to her. This was a really good test, and we’re excited about the way she’s stepped up.”
The Lady Bulldogs will now have a week to regroup and prepare for Lovington in what’s basically become a must-win situation.
“We’ve got to win that game to make sure our postseason hopes stay alive,” said Trentham. “Lovington’s going to be fighting for it, too, because they’re looking at possibly making the playoffs as well.
Basically, we’re just going to spend this week reminding them that they have to stay focused, and hopefully, they can get fired up for this game, because we need it.”