With a competitive soccer league like the TRAC, every match counts.
The Buchanan Bears and Clovis West Golden Eagles knew that all too well, both entering Friday’s action winless in league play and each on a four-game losing streak.
With a goal in the middle of the first half combined with a defensive strategy founded on high pressure, the Bears escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory over the Golden Eagles.
“Starting out 0-3 put us in kind of a downward spiral that we didn’t want to be in early,” Bears coach Drew Walters said. “To come out today and get a result, it definitely should give us hope.”
Part of Walters’ soccer philosophy, he said, is to keep possession of the ball. Neither team, however, was able to establish possession for a buildup of an attack until about 20 minutes in when Buchanan’s high-pressure defensive strategy forced a bit of disarray in the Golden Eagles’ back line.
A sloppy pass inside Clovis West’s own defensive third allowed the Bears to start an attack without far to go to get within scoring range. A quality cross into the box allowed forward Austin Arroyo to leave his mark on the game. With a smooth first touch to settle the ball at his feet, he calmly slotted it into the lower left corner of the net to put the Bears ahead in the 21st minute.
Arroyo said that keeping composure was the key to him finishing the play to put his team ahead.
“You just have to focus and don’t worry about anything in front of you,” he said. “Just worry about hitting it into the back of the net.”
In desperate search for an answer, the Golden Eagles struggled to find a rhythm in its attacking third, only able to generate its few scoring chances mainly on a series of three corner kicks, all of which failed to result in a shot on goal.
In the second half, two opportunities for an equalizer for the Golden Eagles presented themselves, but key deflections sent shots just off target enough to not trouble the Bears.
Buchanan was able to play keep-away just well enough to nurse the victory home, its first in TRAC. The Golden Eagles remain winless in TRAC and drop to 2-9-1 overall on the season and 0-4 in league play.
Buchanan won’t be able to rest on its laurels, though, if it wants to get back into the race to win the league. The Bears face the TRAC-leading Clovis North Broncos on Tuesday, a match that Walters knows will be a huge test.
“Getting a win today was then most revitalizing thing that we could have happen for us going into Clovis North,” Walters said. “It’s going to be a fantastic challenge for us.”