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Photo by Chelsea Buchanan
The Aztecs' Francisco Pina takes the ball past a Sultana player in Thursday's game at Barstow High School.

Aztecs soccer readying for season

BARSTOW • With the Desert Sky League schedule starting next week, the Barstow boys soccer team is doing some last-minute fine-tuning.


In the last game before DSL play, the Aztecs hosted Sultana on Thursday, and took a 2-0 loss at Barstow High School.


It was another game in which head coach Terri Peralta substituted freely and kept her bench busy. These early games have been a chance for the coach to try out several different options, and she’s been taking full advantage.


“I’ve been giving everyone a look, trying different players at different positions and seeing what fits best,” she said. “I’m trying to give everyone quality minutes to see what we have.”


The Sultans scored one goal in each half. They totaled nine shots-on-goal, but the two that went in the net were easily the highest-quality shots. Guarding against those kinds of situations is one thing for her team to work on, according to Peralta.


“We can possess the ball and dominate play, but when we break down, we’re giving up goals,” said the coach. “It takes just one critical breakdown, and they score.”


Though the Aztecs didn’t get any goals, they did take their chances. Raul Espinosa took the game’s first shot, which hit the side of the net about five minutes into the first half, Richard Ebel shot just wide, and a Brian Morales offering was caught by the Sultans keeper. In the second half, Jorge Beltran shot wide, Fernando Vasquez hit the goal post, and Espinosa came close again, shooting just over the crossbar.


“We have to work on finishing,” said Peralta. “We’ve done well in getting ourselves some good looks, but we’re not finishing.”


In the meantime, the Aztec defense was doing a good job of standing its ground. Players like Charles Beason, Francisco Pina, Samuel Winston and Edgar Jimenez were aggressive in stepping in and clearing the ball out of danger.


“Almost everyone is new,” said Peralta of her defensive line. “Charles is our anchor, he’s a returning senior, but everyone else is new.”


The same can be said for much of the roster in general.


“We have quite a new squad,” said Peralta. “There were two freshmen out there today, and we have seven sophomores."


There are two goalies and each played for 40 minutes on Thursday. Junior Zohar Mejia came up with a nice knockaway save in the first half, and sophomore Simon Sanchez a sliding catch for a save in the second.


“Sultana is a big, physical team and they move well,” said coach Peralta. “One thing we did is let them play on a few times. We have to play to the whistle, we can’t just assume we’re going to get a call in a certain situation.”


The loss brings the Aztecs to 2-3.


“It’s tough to keep coming up on the losing end after all the work we put in. These kids have been working hard in practice, and in games, and it’s discouraging,” the coach said. “There are things we’re working on, and we have to communicate a little better. But the boys are working and battling through it all. We have some good talent, so it will come together.”


The next two games are on the road at Burroughs and Victor Valley. The next home game is Dec. 18 against Serrano at 3 p.m.


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