The Camp Verde High School boys soccer team started off its season with an 8-1 home win against Payson High School on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Despite dominating the game for the first 15 minutes in which it peppered the goal numerous times, the Cowboys [1-0] actually gave up the first goal.
“Everyone pushes up and pushes up and then there’s a transition goal,” head coach David Miller said. “You’ve got to guard against that, and it’s a concern.”
Any residual concern went away almost immediately as the home team scored three goals in about as many minutes to take command.
Camp Verde accumulated 13 shots on target, so finishing will continue to be worked on as things move forward.
“I think we had plenty of opportunities,” Miller said. “Anyone can shoot at the goal, but it takes a little more talent to finish. We did 90 percent of the work, just didn’t finish. It comes with experience.”
All eight goals came from eight different players: Junior Joseph Jones, junior Brandon Cruz, senior Wesley Loveall, sophomore Kelton O’Grady, sophomore Manuel Interiano, senior Chase Decker, freshman Luis Venegas and senior Nate Schultz.
What Miller was most satisfied with was the team’s ability to apply pressure on its opponent high up the field. A change from seasons past, he sees it being the team’s style of play throughout the season.
Schultz, who has been a reliable defender throughout during his time at Camp Verde, played in midfield role to help with that.
“We have a lot of talented people on top,” Miller said. “We try to apply more pressure. We’re a little less experienced on defense than in the past.”
He added that as the year progresses the players and team will develop, which normally causes some amount of change they will need to adapt to.
One part of the team that got valuable minutes together was the defense.
This year’s features two sophomores, Benji Perez and Beto Ruiz, and two juniors, Brandon Ruiz and Cruz. Meshing that defense was another focus heading into the Chino Cup, which the team played on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1 and 2, in Chino Valley. Results of that tournament were not available at press time.
The lone Longhorns goal came on a transition play and shot from outside to the far post. Senior goalkeeper Preston Maynard got a finger to it, but could not push it wide of the post. Maynard was tested only once more for the remainder of the game.
“As the season progresses he’ll be more aware of it,” Miller said. “He’s such a good player, he’s always engaged whether it’s giving directions to the defense or dealing with shots.”
The teams will face off again, this time in Payson, on Sept. 12, where Miller expects to see a better Longhorns team.
“We were able to catch them at the right time of the year. They didn’t have many kids come out at the start of the year, so they will be better when we see them in Payson,” Miller said. “It gave our varsity guys experience against a good team.”
Camp Verde next hits the road for a match with rival and four-time defending Conference 2A champion Chino Valley High School. The first whistle is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7.