Bulldogs dominate fledgling Falcons team in league opener

Forward Roberto Amezquita breaks down the field after a goal kick in the second half of a match Thursday evening against Four Rivers, the first league game for both teams. The senior scored repeated goals for the Bulldogs in their 11-0 win. (Jayme Fraser/the Enterprise)

Nyssa’s 11-0 rout of Four Rivers obscured the fact that both teams have room for improvement in the midfield, where neither spent much time on Thursday.  

In the first league match of the season for both teams, the Bulldogs scored 10 goals. Seniors Roberto Amezquita and Omar Jaquez frequently combined with sophomore Javier Castro on simple passes in midfield before bolting past the Ontario charter school’s defensive line to face Four Rivers keeper Matt Tamez, who sometimes was outnumbered or alone as he batted away some shots. Four Rivers also gave the opponents a point when a ball bounced off a defender into the net.

“We still have a ways to go,” Bulldogs Coach Steven Escobedo told his squad after the match. “When we threw in other guys, things got a little mixed up.”

He was proud of young players who earned minutes in the second half, including freshman Porter Carlton. In his first appearance for Nyssa, Carlton ran into the box, battled for the ball on rebounds and took shots – including a header off a cross late in the second half that went wide of the goal.

Escobedo said he wants to see more controlled possession and crisp passes from his team, who will need to have smarter, not just faster, play against seasoned league opponents.

“We’ve got Baker coming up and they beat us,” he said, referencing a 3-4, non-league loss last week.

Thursday’s match was the fourth of the season for Nyssa. For Four Rivers, it was only their second. And it is only the school’s second season with a team.

After a rough first half, where the fledgling Falcons gave away goal kicks and did little to slow Nyssa’s advance to a 6-0 lead, Coach Marcus Zacarias gave his team a pep talk.

“Hey, you got to believe in yourselves in order for this to come together as a team,” he said he told them.

They returned to the pitch with fresh conviction and more organized positioning that gave them improved passing options and better contained the Bulldogs attack. The Falcons challenged Nyssa for the ball, which slowed them in the midfield and forced them to play wide rather than gun down the middle.

“They started communicating more toward the end,” Zacarias said. “We put some pressure on Nyssa in the offensive end.”

Nyssa still scored when Four Rivers did not mark runners goal side or did not clear the ball from the box after tackles.

The team had bright spots despite the second loss of the season.

The box-to-box play of two young cross country runners gave Four Rivers a boost. Freshman Sebastian Arocha and sophomore Roman Gonzalez swapped places in the attack and midfield throughout the game, breaking the ball away from the Bulldogs or combining passes with sophomore Roman Gonzalez to pester the defense.

Freshman Yair Carrillo anchored the Falcons defense throughout the match. Nyssa rarely peeled the ball off the freshman, whose height and size made him tough to tackle before he crossed the ball into the offensive half.  

Despite the score line, the Falcons keeper made some critical saves. Tamez blocked three back-to-back, close range shots during one Bulldog attack in the second half.

Both teams face Irrigon next. Four Rivers plays the Knights Saturday afternoon at home. Nyssa has more recovery time before their Sept. 22 match in Irrigon.

See more photos of the match on our Facebook page.

Reporter Jayme Fraser can be reached at (541) 473-3377.