For 65 and a half minutes the Camp Verde High School girls soccer team held defending Conference 2A champion Chino Valley High School scoreless.
The Cowboys [3-3, 1-2] had at least a tie at their fingertips after going up 1-0 but conceded a goal off of a quick turnover nearly 20 minutes later.
Finally the defense that was holding on by a fingernail broke with one minute left, and the hosts fell 2-1 at home on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
“I thought we came out strong and we played a real good game and we ended up getting a little frantic near the end,” said Cowboys assistant coach Maddy Reay. “We kind of started losing control and we lost the momentum that we had because of that, and little mistakes cost us.”
A long Cougars goal kick bounced over the head of Camp Verde freshman left back Bridgette Fitzgerald, who played the entire second half in the absence of injured senior Emily Orellana. Sophomore sweeper Tanna Decker had been nearly perfect throughout, but a poor touch gifted the ball to Cougar junior midfielder Lauren Foster, who broke free and beat junior goalkeeper Brina Church for the game-winner.
However, the Cowboys defense was especially solid throughout. It did not allow the Cougars much possession and, led by Decker, cut out most of its opponents’ opportunities well before they became dangerous.
Camp Verde ended up with the best chance of the opening half. With 13:30 left, junior midfielder Eliana Paniagua returned a throw in to senior forward Alden Teeters. Teeters found her forward partner in junior Lupe Orta in the middle, who dribbled open a passing lane to return it to Teeters galloping down the right hand side.
Teeters hit a hard cross that found sophomore midfielder Amanda Lozanilla wide open inside the penalty box, but after taking one touch to her right the shot sailed high.
“We were hesitant to shoot. We had some opportunities that we took too many touches on and lost the opportunities because the defense was able to recover,” Reay said. “I think that hurt us, and it’s something we need to work on.”
Chino Valley came close when a shot by freshman midfielder Serena Reed hit high off the left upright, the chance created by another poor Cowboys touch.
Still, Camp Verde got on the board first, with 34:40 left in the second half off of a Cougars blunder.
Orta brought the ball down the right and centered it, initially cleared, but only as far as the edge of the 18-yard box.
Two Cougars defenders collided and the loose ball spilled to Teeters, who fired home high and to the middle of the goal from the edge of the box.
It was the first goal Chino Valley had given up in four games.
Camp Verde mostly sent long balls up field rather than pass through the midfield. During the middle, and strongest, part of the game the ball stayed more on the ground, but during the last phases things began to fall apart again.
The Cougars’ best chances came from untimely turnovers caused by poor touches in the middle of the field, eventually leading to their first goal.
“We’ve been trying to work better on our first touch. We’ve gained the possession back and then we have a bad first touch and we end up giving the opportunity back to the other team,” Reay said.
The visitors had already threatened with a pair of crosses that no one got on the end of. But with a little more than 16:30 left, a quick turnover saw the ball crossed in from the right, and senior midfielder Yeni Gomez touched it in first time from the near post.
Chino Valley immediately had another strong opportunity, and put Camp Verde back on its heels. In the final 10 minutes a couple more giveaways in the middle of the field were, fortunately for the Cowboys, not converted.
They had a few shots of their own in the closing minutes, but none that really tested the Chino Valley goalkeeper.
The Cowboys played at Payson High School in another region match on Tuesday, Oct. 10, but results were unavailable at press time. They next play at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at home against Northland Preparatory Academy.