Cats turn back NMMI

CNJ staff photo: Rick White New Mexico Military Institute’s Robin Ritz skies for a header. Clovis scored six goals in a second half of 7-2 win at Yucca Soccer Complex.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Scoring opportunities were there early on for the Clovis High boys soccer team. In the second half, the Wildcats finally starting taking advantage.

Clovis turned a 1-0 lead into a blowout midway through the second half, cruising to a 7-2 win over New Mexico Military Institute on Tuesday at Yucca Soccer Complex.

Junior Luis Esparza scored three goals and added an assist and senior Bryan Aragon added two goals and an assist as the Cats (1-1) got on the winning track after losing at Rio Rancho on Saturday.

“We weren’t playing that good right away,” Esparza said. “After that we started moving the ball.

“We had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. But on the ones we did, it pumped us up.”

Junior Alejandro Rascon converted one of Jesus Loya’s two assists to give Clovis a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. Despite opportunities for both sides, that score held until Esparza and Aragon tallied less than two minutes apart early in the second half to give the Cats some breathing room.

“We did some things better today than we did on Saturday,” CHS coach Shaun Gill said. “We moved our halfbacks up to be more offensive-minded. We did a lot better job moving the ball, and it paid off; we had a lot more chances at goals.”

After junior forward Carlos Aguirre converted a free kick for NMMI, the Cats ran off four more goals to open a 7-1 margin with less than 10 minutes left.
Esparza said he thought the Cats’ intense preseason work helped them.

“Coach made us run a lot,” he said. “We didn’t like it that well, but if we weren’t in shape we couldn’t have done as well.”

The match was the season-opener for the Colts. Coach John Barbour said many of his players hadn’t met before the start of preseason workouts and are still learning about each other.

“Our conditioning isn’t where it needs to be,” he said. “It’s kind of tough to know where your teammates will be (on the field) when you’ve just met them.”

He said the Cats showed him things he needed to find out about his squad.

“This tells me that my outlook going into the season was pretty much spot-on,” he said. “It’s a matter of getting to play together and learning the system.”