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San Luis, Kofa seek to head into break undefeated
The right to celebrate Christmas undefeated is on the line at 4 p.m. today as Kofa (5-0) hosts San Luis (4-0).
For Kofa there is even more at stake, defending a three-year-old home winning streak. The Kings are 2-0 at home this year beating Cibola 2-1 and Gila Ridge 4-3.
“The winning streak is nice,” said Kofa coach Jamie Nicewander. “You get in that groove where you're playing well, the chemistry is great on the team. Everybody's healthy. But I try not to put too much into it. We look at each game one by one and say this is the game we have to win.”
As far as post-season implications are concerned, neither team can afford too many losses.
“Every win is really critical,” Nicewander said. “Even two losses drops you substantially. It's also kind of a boost going into the break knowing you've won your first five or six games. It'd be nice to be 6-0, but ultimately I want to be 12-0, 13-0 and 22-0. We don't want to lose a game all season. The guys seem pretty focused. They want to play well of course, they want to put on a good show for our fans.”
Second-year Sidewinder coach Ian McDougall knows what to expect from last year with both games being extremely close. San Luis won their home match against Kofa 2-1 and lost at Kofa 1-0.
“It's always a big game anytime we play Kofa,” McDougall said. “No matter what happens I'll be proud of my guys, and the same thing's true for (Nicewander). It's always a dogfight. The last three or four years it's not a blow-out either way. Last year both games could have gone either way, and both teams could have won at any moment. Whatever happens it'll be exciting to watch, and as a spectator of the sport, you can't ask for any more.”
With a loss to Kofa today, McDougall knows there will be even more pressure on his team to win at home against the Kings Jan. 10.
“I think the weight of the game tomorrow is less on the two teams and more on the bragging rights of who's going to go into Christmas break undefeated,” McDougall said. “If we can steal a victory up there it will take a lot of weight off our shoulders coming into the second half of the season.”
The players in San Luis are well aware of the home winning streak that belongs to the Kings and would love to be the ones to break it.
“It's a tough game, we have to win in order to go to state,” said San Luis senior striker Leonardo Moreno. “I want to win over there because they haven't lost at home for a few years. I want to be the one that takes that victory.”
For whoever wins today, the loser won't have to wait too long to settle the score. Kofa travels down to San Luis.
“When the whistle blows at 6 p.m. on Irv Pallack Field, it's game on,” Nicewander said. “The games we've both won going into this don't matter at that point. It just comes down to that who's going to put that ball into the net, who's going to defend best, who's going to attack best and that's really how it's going to go down.”