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Photo by Chelsea Buchanan
The Aztecs' Richard Ebel (16) and Rafael Rodriguez (15) battle for possession with a Granite Hills player in Monday's game at Barstow High School.

Aztecs outdueled by Eagles

Barstow boys soccer continues to improve

BARSTOW • Though it was a loss, it was a step up.

The Barstow boys soccer squad got back out on the field after its winter break on Monday. The Aztecs stayed with their opponent throughout the match, but lost to a strong Granite Hills team, 4-1, at Barstow High School.

The Aztecs showed a marked improvement from their last home game, with better passing and communication. It was just a couple of lapses that allowed the Eagles to get their goals, lapses that are usually costly against such tough competition.

“We possessed well and passed well, we just made a few mistakes,” said Barstow head coach Terri Peralta. “They capitalized on our mistakes, but when we had the chance, we didn’t capitalize on theirs. We have to finish.”

The Eagles got into the scoring column just minutes into the first half. Mario Cruz sent in a long, rolling shot that Aztecs keeper Zohar Mejia got a hand on, but the ball slipped from his grasp and into the net.

The Hills lead didn’t last long. Under two minutes later, Guillermo Alvarado laid down a nice cross to Richard Ebel, who dribbled around a defender to get an open shot past Eagles goalie Miguel Bustillos.

“That was big for us, to rebound quickly and score like that,” said Peralta. “It was a big morale boost.”

The Eagles got one more tally before the horn, a head goal scored by Bobby Amato, off a corner kick. Hills came close a few minutes earlier, but Mejia came out of the net to spoil a one-on-one rush by David Vallejo.

Play was again even for the most part in the second half. A couple of those mistakes led to a couple of more Eagles goals. Amato struck again, getting a shot past Aztec keeper Simon Sanchez, who had come out to make a save. At the midway point, Danny Carvajal lofted a rebound shot over Sanchez’s shoulder.

With much of the action being of the back-and-forth variety, neither team took many shots, with 10 for Hills (11-2, 4-0) and three for Barstow (3-8, 1-3). The Aztec defense has also improved over the last few weeks, as players like Charles Beason and Francisco Pina have stepped up their game to keep the ball out of the attack zone.

“Granite Hills is a quick team, they’re very tough to defend. But Charles stuck with their number-one scorer today and shut him down,” said coach Peralta. “Francisco is a sophomore who is doing an outstanding job in the back.”

Pina is just one of seven 10th-graders on the varsity squad.

“We are a young team, I have to keep reminding myself of that. We make young mistakes,” said Peralta. “But we’re improving, we’re passing and communicating better. We’re working together as a team and moving well off the ball. We’re not just watching the game anymore, we’re part of it.

 “Now we have to work on capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes. We had a few chances today and didn’t finish. When we have the opportunity, we have to finish.”

The Aztecs have two more home games this week, hosting Burroughs on Wednesday and Victor Valley on Friday.

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