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Aztecs home and away
Boys and girls soccer start DSL schedule
BARSTOW • Though it lost enough players from last year to put a full team on the field, the Barsrow varsity boys soccer squad has reloaded and is hoping to make some noise in the Desert Sky League this season.
The Aztecs aren’t starting from scratch, as they have a few returnees and nine seniors on the roster. They did lose 12 players to graduation, however, so there will be some adjustments to be made.
On the plus side, filling the space left by those departing players hasn’t been difficult. The high school soccer program is starting to feed itself, according to head coach Terri Peralta, a goal she’s had for a few years.
“We graduated 12 seniors, but we filled it with the talent we have,” she said after the Aztecs’ first home game. “We have a nice mix of returning players, and JV kids from last year. The players are developing through the program, it’s feeding itself from the lower levels up.”
The Aztecs are hoping to improve their record and make a return to the postseason. They went 5-13-1 last year, and won two games in the two seasons before that. Qualifying for playoffs is something coach Peralta would like for the veterans on the team to experience.
There’s senior leadership in the form of goalkeeping this year, as both goalies, Frankie Baca and Zohar Mejia, are seniors. They’re joined by 12th-graders Devon Hobbs, Samuel Winston, Andrew Mendoza, Manuel Lopez, Tristian Saenz, Luis Ventura, and Alex Alvarado.
There are two sophomores, Samuel Hood and Rafael Rodriguez, and one freshman, Johan Cruz. The bulk of the roster is juniors - Victor Alvarado, Lawrence Espinosa, Edgar Jimenez, Francisco Pina, Isaias Sondoval, Cameron Taylor, Adam Kelle, and Ivan Nunez. Junior Richard Ebel is currently injured, but hopes to play this season.
The Aztecs opened the year at the Oak Hills Tournament. Though they went winless, they were competitive, losing to Sultana just 2-0 last Saturday. The DSL schedule opened on Thursday, with Barstow hosting Burroughs and losing by a 2-1 score.
The match was a high-paced one in which the Aztecs were in control for the balance of the time. The home team outshot its opposition by a 24-11 margin, but suffered some bad luck.
“It was a well-played game with lots of action,” said Peralta. “We had more of the possession, but we were a little unlucky on shots today.”
The Burros scored the game’s first goal, coming about 15 minutes into the first half. Fidel Martinez shot on a break over a diving keeper Baca, to get Burroughs on the board. With five minutes left in the half, Barstow tied it up. A kick by Victor Alvarado was corralled by Taylor in front, who chipped it over the line past the Burros’ Jorge Hernandez, and it was 1-1 at halftime.
Though a junior, it’s Taylor’s first year with the soccer squad.
“He’s a new and great addition to the team. He’s quick and strong, even though he hasn’t been playing soccer long,” said coach Peralta. “He played basketball last year. I got both him and Lawrence from the basketball side.”
The Aztecs almost pulled ahead as the seconds wound down in the first half. Winston took a shot in front that banged off one post, and over to the other, before bouncing back onto the field. There were other shots that just grazed the crossbar, all of which represented those ‘unlucky’ shots to which the coach referred.
“We should have been the winner today, but the ball wouldn’t go in,” said Peralta. “But the boys kept at it, they didn’t quit and played to the whistle.”
In the second half, Jimenez took a head shot that was just high, while Taylor’s header was caught. Winston shot just wide, Sandoval’s kick was caught, and Barstow came close three times off throw-ins in the final minutes.
Burroughs’ Eric McWhorter scored the winning goal with 10 minutes left.
Overall, Peralta is happy with how the team is coming together and thinks it will be a competitive season.
“We’ve come a long way from last year,” she said. “We just need to be a little better at finishing, but I’m proud of how we played today.”
The Aztecs will host Victor Valley next Tuesday, and Adelanto on Thursday.
Lady Aztecs tie
RIDGECREST • The Lady Aztecs tied Burroughs, 2-2, in a road game Thursday.
Each team had a dominant half. The Burros scored twice in the first, with Barstow regrouping to get two goals in the second.
“We were a little timid in the first half,” said Barstow coach Frank Maldonado. “In the second, we adjusted very well.”
Burroughs held that 2-0 lead until there were 10 minutes left. At that point, Lexyss Aviles got the Lady Aztecs on the board, scoring with an assist from Aubrey Baker. Aviles assisted on the second goal, which was scored with four minutes left by Anna Alvarado.
“We moved the ball so much better in the second half,” said coach Maldonado. “We made numerous passes and controlled really well.”
The coach was also pleased with the defense of Hannah Ramirez. In the second half he put her on the Burros’ Rachelle Schiller, who was dangerous in the first half.
“She really shut her down,” said Maldonado of Ramirez. “(Schiller) was killing us in the first half.”
Yessica Morales played in goal for the Lady Aztecs, making six saves.
“It was a physical game and we stayed right with them,” said coach Maldonado. “We’re still a young team and will only get better.”
The Lady Aztecs will play in the Oak Hills Tournament this weekend. They’ll face Indian Hills at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and REV at 2 p.m.