EL CENTRO — The Southwest Eagles came into their final game of the 2017 Imperial Valley League (IVL) boys’ Varsity soccer regular season Tuesday night at home, in need of a tie or win to clinch, at minimum, a share of first place in conference. The Calexico Bulldogs upended the Eagles’ plans, however, taking the game with 1-0 score.
At opening kick Calexico’s midfielders controlled the ball and began to push forward as Southwest strategically concentrated personnel toward the backfield to prevent box penetration, forcing the Bulldogs to take early low percentage shots from deep out.
In the 12th minute Calexico’s midfielder Kevin Galvan was awarded a corner kick opportunity from the right side, but the Eagles cleared out the attempt and counter-attacked.
As Southwest moved the ball up field, striker Jesus Escalante received an entrance pass at the top of the box and drilled a shot that grazed the cross bar and deflected out.
In the 22nd minute the Eagles threatened again when forward Alejandro Cardenas kicked a laser from the far left. The ball missed just slightly and landed on the top of the net.
Southwest’s defense continued to concede little ground as the first half ended 0-0 on a diverted free kick attempt by Calexico’s co-captain Francisco Beltran.
The Bulldogs advanced deeper and more frequently into Eagle territory as three shots on goal whizzed by the net and another curled into goalkeeper Jose Bernal’s hands within the first 12 minutes of the second half.
Calexico’s forwards were outnumbered as Southwest continued to stack its defense to thwart the Bulldog’s offensive advancement.
In the 60th minute Eagle’s midfielder Milton Laguna created space inside the box and sliced one that curved wide right.
After a stolen possession, Southwest pierced through the Bulldog defense when forward Carlos Moreno bounced the ball off his chest and boomed a shot attempt that sailed high yet again.
Calexico hurried down field as shot opportunities dwindled with each passing second. On a trek down the left side, the Bulldogs slipped the ball through the Eagle midfield where Beltran found himself parallel to the defense and crushed a low-lying bullet that was stopped by the goalie.
Yet the impact of the shot forced the ball to bounce out of the goal keeper’s grasp and roll right into the area of striker Eduardo Nunez who crept behind his defender and toe-tapped it in to make the score 1-0 Calexico in the 74th minute. The Eagles could not respond as time ran out and the last whistle blew, scoreboard reading 1-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
“It was a good, hard fought win even though Southwest played for the tie, we came out on top. What made the difference down the stretch was our determination. We wanted to win and we were more offensive oriented; they waited for the tie and it didn’t work out,” stated Calexico Head Coach Javier Bernal.
Calexico pulled off the road upset and kept the Sparkling Cider on ice as the Bulldogs momentarily spoiled Southwest’s IVL #1 seed celebration.
Calexico has one game remaining in their regular season schedule where a win would seal the top spot; whereas a tie or loss would make Southwest outright IVL Champions.