CASA GRANDE — The Casa Grande Union boys soccer team is at the halfway mark in their season, and in their first game back from winter break the Cougars pulled out a 3-2 win against Tempe McClintock in double overtime on Tuesday.
Juan Valdez came up with the game winning goal, two minutes into the second overtime.
McClintock didn’t have an answer to Valdez’s goal as time ran out and the Cougars improved to 3-3.
After falling behind just five minutes into the game as the Chargers (0-2) scored on a penalty kick, it took CG Union nearly the whole game to finally find the back of the net as Anthony Guadian got the equalizer with 14 minutes left in the game.
In the first 10-minute overtime, the Cougars looked more energized against a sluggish McClintock team. CG Union scored with 2:35 left on the clock and appeared to be on the verge of ending a long game which featured ejections for both teams.
“They started very lethargic,” CG Union coach Marco Fonseca said. “They were very slow and out of sync. In the second half, they adjusted and after being a man down, I think that’s when the pressure kind of set in that they needed to win.”
The Chargers responded with a goal that no one expected find the net, as the shot was taken well outside the box with 1:19 left in the game.
After finishing 0-8 last year the Cougars are hoping for a chance at the playoffs after having reached the play-in round in the 2019-20 season.
Fonseca stated that during the COVID shortened season last year, the team had a very difficult schedule which featured playoff teams like Tucson Sunnyside, Tucson and McClintock.
“They stood up, but still we lost,” Fonseca said. “This second half we know that teams aren’t as tough, but they’re still tough and they showed it (Tuesday). They started pressing the ball a little more and started passing the ball more, and there was a lot more communication than what we’ve seen in previous games.”
Unlike other teams across the state that competed in tournaments over the course of winter break, the Cougars spent three days practicing over the two-week break to remain active.
Fonseca expects the Cougars to finish off strong and to play more as team in the second half of the season.
He is looking for the upperclassmen on the team to make an impact on the game by being aggressive on the ball and fighting for possession, ‘like it’s the last game they’re going to play.’
Fonseca highlighted a few of the athletes he expects will continue to lead the charge such as, Juan Pablo Solorzano, Jesus Lara, Victor Inzunza, Eduardo Sotelo and Abraham Arciniega.
“All of them, from last year I think that did almost a whole 180,” Fonseca said. “They’re the ones that are going to carry this team. We’re trying to take a shot at the playoffs with them.”