Warriors nearing the end of brutal stretch
A quick glance at the Socorro Warriors early September schedule would likely make any 3A soccer coach in the state cringe.
It read Bosque Prep on Tuesday, Sandia Prep Wednesday, Santa Fe Prep this afternoon, and all in a five-day span.
Bosque (5-1) and Sandia Prep (2-0) have combined to win 10 of the last 11 3A state titles, and despite their current 0-3 record, Santa Fe Prep is no pushover. They’ve hung with three top-tier opponents so far this season in Rehoboth, Santa Fe and Capital.
The first two of this week’s opponents have been unkind to the Warriors (2-7).
On a blazing hot day in Albuquerque Tuesday, the Bobcats used a heavy dose of Andres Rivera, who opened up a three-goal lead by himself. Then Bosque ran away with the game in the second half as Felipe Galvis and Jacob Sanchez scored two goals apiece. The final score ended up 9-0 in favor of Bosque Prep.
Just 20 or so hours after the conclusion of that match, the Sandia Prep Sundevils visited Warriors Stadium, and that turned into the Preston Houser show. He scored six of the Sundevils’ 10 goals, while Caleb Eckenroth added two goals, and Ryan Hunter and Carlos Trujillo scored on goal each en route to a 10-0 shutout.
But getting bested by presumably the two best teams in the state isn’t necessarily a terrible thing for head coach Dennis Walsh and his squad.
“Now we get what it takes to get to the top. Hopefully now we’re a little battle tested, battle hardened,” Walsh said. “Hypothetically, and I’m not saying our district is weak, but we’ve seen the best teams in the state now.”
Some more good news is that the scores of those two matches didn’t fully represent the way they transpired.
Yes, Socorro got outworked in the second half of both contests, but for a substantial period of time against the Bobcats and the Sundevils, there wasn’t a very noticeable disparity in level of talent.
“Both games, we had them 0-1 with 10, 15 minutes left in the half,” Walsh said.
“We were playing good. We were moving the ball around really well.”
But Walsh also pointed out that high school teams competing at championship levels every year are very deep and composed of players from club teams, so they’ve all been playing organized soccer most of their lives.
So what does a first-year coach say to a team that just lost two games by a combined score of 19-0?
“As far as what we say to the guys, we tell them we set our goals for the end of the season,” Walsh said. “Don’t get down on yourselves. Our main goal this season was to be competitive, and do our best to win district.
“We still feel like we have a really good shot of doing that.”
And regardless of what happens against Santa Fe Prep this afternoon, the Warriors will have a full 13 days without a match before they return to the pitch against West Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 22.
They’ll spend some time working on things their schedule hasn’t really allowed them to address so far. After today’s match, Socorro will have played nine matches, including two scrimmages in just 21 days. Five of those matches came in a five-day stretch just four days into the season.
“For us after this week, it’s nothing but good stuff,” Walsh said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time working on good positioning and communication.
“That’s one thing we haven’t spent a lot of time on, is just talking to each other.”
The Warriors will also be healthy heading into district play later this month. The team has suffered only two injuries so far, and both players are nearly back to 100 percent. In addition, Socorro will soon have the added services of Anthony Saiz, who Walsh describes as a natural.
Yet another positive aspect of the two-week layoff? Practice. And Walsh loves practice.
“I get so much more out of practice,” he said. “If you practice hard and you’re doing the right things in practice, game days are easy.”
Socorro plays host to the Griffins today at 5 p.m. at Warriors Stadium, then the Dons of West Las Vegas come to town on Saturday, Sept. 22.