RUIDOSO – All conventional wisdom said this game should have been over by halftime.
Portales’ boys soccer team came into their District 4-4A/1A contest at Ruidoso having just lost its first game of the season to Goddard and boasted an 11-1-1 record, unbeaten in district.
Ruidoso had won only one match at the start of the season and had scored just one goal in 10 losses.
Sure, the Warriors still lost, but it was a 5-2 decision that showed they were improving on both ends of the field.
“They’ve got to start getting more physical out there,” said Ruidoso coach Jamie Newsome. “Some of the new guys are out there and afraid to get hit. I tell them it’s gonna hurt, get up and go.”
Portales (12-1-1, 3-0-1 district) started off fast, scoring two goals in the first 16 minutes, including one by Jose Salomon that ricocheted off Warrior keeper Alfonso Gomez.
The scoring slowed down a bit after that, but the Rams still had a 5-0 lead after two successive penalty kicks with less than 13 minutes left in the half.
But that was all Ruidoso (1-11, 0-4) allowed.
By halftime, the Warriors had earned back a goal when Aldo Cardenas intercepted a pass with nine minutes left and drove for the score. He almost had a second one on a free kick, but it sailed just over the cross bar.
Cardenas actually could have had a number of goals if he could have found the open space around the Portales goal keeper.
“Aldo finally got a bunch of shots in, but he’s so used to shooting short,” Newsome said. “I keep telling him to push it, to shoot away from the goalie on the other end of the box, and he’s having a hard time focusing on that.”
As it was, Cardenas scored on a penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half for the final score.
Now with Ruidoso heading into the home stretch of the season, and facing the district lineup for a second time starting with a road game at Moriarty Oct. 8, Newsome is hoping his team has turned a corner in its development.
“They’re starting to play at the beginning the way they’re supposed to instead of waiting until the end of the second half,” Newsome said. “Today they got two goals in and that’s great for them, but we’re still on the losing side and it won’t look better until they start communicating more.”