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Cibola snaps No. 2 San Luis' undefeated season
It's been a year of one-goal losses for the Cibola Raiders, but they finally pushed through to beat the No. 2 San Luis Sidewinders 2-1 Tuesday night.
They lost their opener 3-2 to Chandler. They battled hard down in San Luis in late November and lost 2-1. They nearly broke the Kofa three-year home winning streak a week before San Luis did, but ended up losing another tight game 2-1.
But on the same day that the Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Points came out, the No. 30 Raiders pushed through and knocked off the Sidewinders.
“These are two great teams,” said Cibola head coach Mike Fritz. “San Luis has a great program, a great tradition down there. They're one of the best programs in the state, but we can't get worried about those power point things. We just have to go out and play hard every time. All those clichés. The kids look at it, obviously they're all interested in that, but as a coaching staff we have to prepare one game at a time and see what happens with the power points.”
After controlling the ball for the first 20 minutes Tuesday, Cibola struck first. The Sidewinder defense seemed to fall asleep for a few seconds, and junior midfielder Francisco Urenda got wide open and headed in a cross from about 15 yards out.
“We were mentally weak across the board,” said San Luis head coach Ian McDougall. “Poor decision-making, their first goal, I told my guys at halftime. Every goal we've given up to them we've given to them. They're not scoring amazing shots, they're not earning them. We're simply giving them the ball in great positions and they're finishing, and that's what they should do.”
Kofa answered minutes later with a rocket off the foot of junior midfielder Javier Espinoza, but that was all she wrote for the Sidewinders. San Luis had three different chances disallowed by offsides penalties.
“This is one of the most talented teams we've ever put on the field,” McDougall said. “For some reason, we cannot play 80 minutes of mental soccer. We've done it once in eight games now and if that's all we can do, maybe we don't deserve to go to state. If we play this poorly at state, we're just going to get hammered in the first round anyway.”
The game winner came from Paulo Amador in the 77th minute.
“We were battling the whole game,” Amador said. “I saw the opportunity because (Edward Rios) beat him on a great breakaway so I just opened up the space, got the ball and blasted it in.”
The last three minutes of the game were deafening, with both benches and both fan bases screaming at the top of their lungs.
“Our guys are just going out there and having fun,” Fritz said. “They're playing small passes, they're working well together and they've stuck with the program all year. We've had a lot of close games, but they've stuck with it. They believe in themselves, and that gets the program going in the right direction.”
Cibola travels to the Phoenix area to take on Alhambra at 6 p.m. Friday. Alhambra came to Yuma last year and beat the Raiders 4-2.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Amador said. “Over winter break, our team just kept coming to practice, kept working and working and working. That's all we have to do is keep working and taking it one step at a time.”