Down three key players, Warriors fall to Colts

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It hasn’t been the easiest season so far for the Socorro boys soccer team. They’re young, they’re inexperienced, and so far their record has proven exactly that. After a home loss to the New Mexico Military Institute on Thursday, the Warriors have fallen to 2-11 overall, and 0-4 in District 3-A/AAA play.

But not all is lost on this young team, and while their record might not suggest as much, Socorro is improving. And it has done so without some of its best players.

“It hurts not to have our three main scorers in right now,” head coach Dennis Walsh said.

Leading scorer John Carilli is out with a knee injury, freshman standout Mike Armijo is toggling his time between junior varsity football and soccer, and Anthony Saiz is still trying to find his footing for the 2012 season.

Their lack of presence was indeed felt Thursday as NMMI jumped out to an eventual 3-0 halftime lead off the nifty feet of Jorge Garza, Marco Rojo Fonseca and Angel Reyes. The stature and quick physical nature of the Colts (7-4, 2-0), was simply too much for Socorro to keep pace with. The Roswell-based military school added three more goals in the second half to put the match out of reach.

Even though the Warriors fell 6-0 to the Colts at Warrior Stadium, Walsh and his squad still see some positives from what has thus far been a rough fall outing.

“You take the three fastest, softest touching feet on the field, and we don’t have any three of them on the field today, and we walk away with a couple of chances,” Walsh said. “You know, the score wasn’t what we wanted it to be, but the level of play was okay. So that’s not bad.”

Socorro held its own for 19 minutes against the bigger, stronger Colts on Thursday, and despite the outcome, the Warriors defense in all of its youth left the pitch with nothing to be ashamed of.

Dushan Gacanich proved to be solid on defense, and Colton Wheeler showed some versatility in dropping back into an unfamiliar position.

“Dushan (Gacanich), he’s only a sophomore, and he’s by far the most physical, most spatially aware player. He just plays intense and solid,” Walsh said.

“He’s fast and he doesn’t get tired. He’s in great shape and he doesn’t quit.”

And fighting hard, playing hard, and displaying a relentless attitude is something the Warriors can hang their hats on right now. Even though Socorro has lost its last eight matches, the program is technically growing. Walsh and his squad began the season with 18 or 19 players, and now have around 24 players showing up to practice on a daily basis.

“Everybody still shows up to practice wanting to fight hard, despite the fact that wins just aren’t coming,” Walsh said.

So what exactly does a team with a losing record look forward to in the weeks upcoming?

“We know that we’ve seen every team in district now, and we’re by far the smallest team out there,” Walsh said.

Socorro is also the youngest team in district, Walsh added, but that won’t keep them from staying upbeat. After all, it will get back Carilli, Armijo and Saiz for its upcoming district rematch with Silver at home on Oct. 11. Not to mention, Warriors goalkeeper Will Schaffer has been a stalwart in goal lately.

“He’s such a strong presence,” Walsh said of his senior keeper.

“Maybe once we get everyone healthy, we can start putting Ramon (Stetson) or Jose (Corral)back in goal.”

That adjustment would allow the Warriors, who have readjusted their offensive strategy as of late, a more domineering presence at midfleid with the duo of Schaffer and Carilli.

More good news for Socorro is that it will have a full week to prepare for the Silver Fighting Colts, a team that barely squeaked by the Warriors in overtime on Sept. 25.

“We get to practice hard, take a little bit of pressure off,” Walsh said.

“The fire is totally there. They do it all week long in practice. They don’t quit,” Walsh said.

Socorro will play host to Silver on Oct. 11 at 3 p.m., at Eddie Castañeda Field.