The Cougars fell 3-2 to La Cueva at the APS Complex, a marked improvement from a 7-0 loss to the Bears in late August at the metro tournament.
“I think it says a lot,” Cibola coach Cameron Clarke said. “We’re still trying to build into our district play. Tonight was a good night for us. That was the big thing, we just wanted to come out and compete.”
Cibola (6-5) was outshot 15-6 as La Cueva (9-2) dominated possession for long stretches of the game.
“We knew that they were going to be a possession team and we knew we had to take our opportunities and if something came up for us to counter, we were going to capitalize on it,” Clarke said.
Still, the Cougars showed plenty of fight throughout the contest. After Luke Lawrence’s second goal put the Bears ahead 2-0 in the 26th minute, Cibola regrouped and counterattacked.
The Cougars’ Christian Canales’ corner kick landed in front of the goal amid several players who fought for control in the 32nd minute, but Diego Chavez was finally able to wrestle it away from the La Cueva defenders and fire off a low shot that made it 2-1.
The Bears pressed up for the remainder of the first half but could not score. They held possession to start the second half but were again left frustrated by the Cougars’ defense.
The Bears added to their lead in the 70th minute as Lawrence completed his hat trick. He collected a ball bouncing across the mouth of the goal and put it in past goalkeeper Sixto Lopez.
“I just think our hard work paid off because each of our goals were pretty hard (to come by),” Lawrence said.
Cibola countered five minutes later when freshman Joe Ortiz blasted a 35-yard free kick into the net.
“In the end, W’s are what matter, but taking a loss like this and being able to learn from it is going to be a lot more beneficial than having a win that doesn’t mean anything,” Clarke said. “This is where we wanted to be, we wanted to be closer against this team.”
The Cougars will play St. Pius today at 4:30 p.m. at the APS Complex.
— This article appeared on page 3 of the West Side Journal