New head coach Billy Oxford has the Warriors crew off to a 2-0 start during its four game road trip to kick off the season. After narrowly escaping game one against Belen 3-2, in which they allowed both Eagles goals in the second half, they traveled to Valencia for a battle with the Jaguars during an evening match on August 27. Socorro posted a shut out to win 3-0.
“It feels good to see this team’s hard work coming into fruition so far,” Oxford said. “They’ve put in the time and now we’re starting to reap the rewards for as long as we can. These guys (Valencia) are a really good team along the wings, very fast and great at putting the ball into space and our defensive front was able to hold them back. Everything worked out according to plan for the most part but it certainly wasn’t easy.”
A defensive battle it was in the upper 90’s degree heat. Junior Zedikiah Ochoa was the only player on the field to score before halftime. The teams were evenly sized which made for a back-and-forth in the midfield area with an occasional run at goal. Valencia’s goalkeeper was working overtime, particularly during an early second half burst from sophomore Adam Garcia that nearly squeezed through the keepers hands.
Socorro goalie Gavin Spitz also had no time to fall asleep as he went a perfect 8-for-8 in shots on goal saved. Senior Jorge Hinojosa used his strength to barrel through the defense and connected on a chip over the keeper from a precision assist by sophomore Josh Walsh to make it 2-0.
“Getting that goal was great for our team,” Hinojosa said. “Josh found me and fortunately I was able to put it through. Maintaining that mindset to keep going and try to get open every play hopefully leads to good things. The other team out there was really good they just didn’t quite have our tenacity. Our mindset is to always go out there 100 percent every game.”
By no means a dirty game, frustrations began to set in as the clock wound down. Jaguars players became noticeably more aggressive with their slide tackles with some using inappropriate language towards the field ref after penalty calls which they were warned to stop on the field and appropriately reprimanded by their coaches on the sidelines.
The nail in the coffin came with Walsh showing off his well-documented canon leg by hitting a dagger from distance which had the game out of reach with only a few minutes remaining.
Sophomore Hezekiah Oxford was up and down the field denying several Valencia attempted runs at goal. He was also playing hurt after fracturing three ribs and rotating his rib cage during the Belen game. The early season road trips is a challenge that he seems unaffected by.
“We play as a unit,” he said. “You could see that out here today the way we were able to transfer from offense to defense fairly smoothly. Being on the road helps us to bond every year. A lot of us have played together since we were little kids. When you’re on the bus it allows us to grow as a team beyond just on the field.”
The Warriors are neck-and-neck team stats wise with early season MaxPreps nationals averages. Its saves per match are higher than most at 8.5 per game. The previously scheduled home game on August 31 was cancelled due to scheduling issues which continued their road trip to Onate followed by Robertson on September 5. They return home September 7 for a 3 p.m. afternoon game against the Las Cruces Bulldawgs.