Goals in the early stages of each half lifted the Camp Verde High School boys soccer team to a 3-0
win against Northland Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Senior Nate Schultz’s second of the game finalized scoring with less than two minutes remaining in what was an offensive onslaught that still left something to be desired in the Cowboys’ [6-1, 1-0] Central Region opener.
“When you dominate and let a team stay in then those guys start thinking they can win,” Cowboys head coach David Miller said. “We need to get better finishes and more of them in order to have more confidence in ourselves.”
Camp Verde did score just over three minutes in. Senior forward Joseph Jones brought the ball down the right side and clipped in a high cross toward the top of the penalty box.
Senior midfielder Wesley Loveall connected on a leaping volley with his right foot, sending an unstoppable shot into the top right corner.
The Cowboys continued to dominate possession throughout the half. Northland Prep had a small threat, just before Camp Verde’s goal, when Kyle Zigich went through down the right, but only managed a tame shot.
From then on the Cowboys defense did not allow the Spartans to carry the ball into their attacking side of the field until almost halfway through the first half.
And whenever they did Schultz, who spent the whole first half playing sweeper, stopped the ball. The Cowboys have held opponents to one goal in their last three games, and three in their last six.
“Nate Schultz, he’s pretty solid back there and that really helps,” Jones said. “We have our outside defenses Beto [Torres] and Benji [Perez]. We make our little mistakes but we all work together to get it back up.”
Northland Prep created a few loose chances in the last 10 minutes of the opening 40. Its best came on a header from within the penalty area that went straight at senior goalkeeper Preston Maynard.
Senior midfielder Brandon Cruz was the major catalyst of Camp Verde’s attack, moving freely around the field, and the team moved the ball side to side in its more stagnant attacks.
The hosts spent most of the game attacking, shooting the ball 31 times, but not scoring. Many of those shots went well over, wide or straight at the pair of Spartans goalkeepers, who split time.
The shots were hurried at times, when the possibility to create more clear-cut chances were available. Cruz nutmegged a Spartan defender to break free, but shot from outside the 18-yard box with teammates arriving.
“I like the combinations, I think that’s where the opportunity is,” Miller said. “I’d like to make sure that we take the opportunity to play the long ball when we can .... And just finish the ball, we hit the goalie I don’t know how many times, or get the shot off.”
In the second half Schultz and Jones swapped positions. Camp Verde did begin to create more, the best combination culminating in the second goal.
Loveall played the ball to Cruz in the middle, who flicked the ball with his heel to a streaking Schultz. Schultz touched the ball once by the Spartans’ last defender and finished low to the goalkeeper’s right.
Another virtue of the Cowboys’ play was relentless energy, which paid off for the third goal. Jones pestered the ball away from Northland Prep in its own half and found Schultz, who finished the broken play.
“First one to the ball wins, is basically my mentality,” Jones said. “If you have your teammates, use them, don’t be a ball hog.”
Moving forward Miller wants to see improvement on offensive set pieces, but understands that his team is also not made up of many tall players.
Camp Verde next plays at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at home against Leading Edge Academy - Gilbert.
Old Pueblo Classic Results
Friday, Sept. 29
Camp Verde 1 [Schultz]
Blue Ridge 1
Camp Verde 2 [Jones, Manuel Interiano]
Saturday, Sept. 30
Camp Verde 7 [Jones 2, Loveall, Benji Perez, Interiano, Luis Venegas, Schultz]
St. Johns 1
Camp Verde 1 [Interiano]