Camp Verde High School’s girls soccer team cruised to a 6-0 win in its Central Region debut against visiting Payson High School on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The Cowboys [3-1, 1-0], who dominated possession throughout, were led by junior forwards Tyra Smith and Lupe Orta with two goals a piece. They have outscored their opponents 17-4 in their last five games.
“We did really good actually,” Cowboys junior midfielder Brina Church said. “I’m really impressed with the way we’ve been playing. We have a lot of talent; it’s just a matter of putting it together. We have a lot of good girls and I’m super excited.”
The two teams had just met in the Show Low Invitational on Sept. 16, with the Cowboys winning 3-0. This time, Camp Verde’s regular starters played from the initial kickoff.
Smith opened the scoring almost seven minutes in, taking the ball up the right side and hitting a high ball from outside the right corner 18-yard box, sailing high over the Longhorns goalkeeper. Senior midfielder Alden Teeters scored four minutes later on a pass from senior midfielder Alexandra Schaeffer.
Whenever Payson had the ball and tried taking on Camp Verde’s defenders, the midfield dropped back to challenge and recover possession. The Cowboys used speed on the outside to create opportunities to cross the ball into the middle.
Sophomore forward Valeria Pasos was the beneficiary of one of those attacks. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Lozanilla was freed on a through ball and took a shot on goal, and Pasos was alone at the far post to tap the ball in.
“We really stress without our midfield. They need to drop back, they need to push up and it’s a hard position to play but they do a really good job,” Cowboys assistant coach Maddy Reay said. “And they’re getting a lot better at filling those gaps and being able to come back and help the team and at the same time be able to push up.”
Orta’s goals put the game out of question by halftime. Junior left back Emily Orellana sent a diagonal ball into the penalty box, finding Lozanilla. An errant pass dropped to Orta for the simple finish. Orta scored again just over two minutes later.
The Cowboys looked to move the ball around quickly with one or two touches, an area of the game that Reay wanted to see improve as the season continues. Most of their chances came on straight or angled through balls from the outside to runners coming down the middle.
“We’re starting to mature a little bit. I think offensively our girls are starting to figure things out,” Reay said.
Defensively, the hosts were not troubled much by the Longhorns. Sophomore sweeper Tanna Decker never allowed a ball or player to get by. Many long clearances up the field immediately turned into a chance on the other end, with the speedy Cowboys winning most of the 50-50 balls.
“I really do believe we have the strongest defense I have ever played on and I’ve been playing for 12 years,” Church said.
The defense was unchanged for most of the second half when substitutes were introduced in midfield. Smith returned to score her second with 27:21 left to make it 6-0.
Decker, moved into midfield, came close after being released down the left, glancing her left-footed effort low off of the far post.
The Cowboys continued region play at Northland Preparatory Academy, No. 1 in Conference 2A, on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Results were unavailable at press time. They next play at the Old Pueblo Soccer Classic on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30.
Boys Soccer Scoreboard
Tuesday, Sept. 19 @ Northland Preparatory Academy
Cowboys 4 [Joseph Jones 2, Chase Decker, Nathan Schultz]
Saturday, Sept. 23 vs. Page High School
Cowboys 5 [Brandon Cruz 2, Wesley Loveall, Kelton O’Grady, Luis Venegas]
Sand Devils 0