It wasn’t as easy for the Hobbs boys soccer team as it appeared it was going to be. But the Eagles earned the end result they wanted, and that’s what mattered most.
Bottom line, Hobbs remained undefeated in district on Saturday by defeating Clovis 4-2 at Watson Memorial Stadium. The Eagles, though, had held a 3-0 lead in the second-half, saw it shrink to 3-2, then prevailed by two after senior Ryan Middleton’s header supplied some insurance.
Hobbs came away with a 5-0 record in District 4-5A, and a 15-3-1 mark overall. No, it wasn’t easy, but the Eagles will take it.
“The scoreboard says 4-2,” Hobbs head coach Alejandro Chavez said, “so I’m very proud of that.”
“We had control of the game,” Middleton said, “but we did get a little worried when they started to score. We just had to keep our heads up, keep playing hard and put another one in the back of the net so they couldn’t come back.”
Hobbs took the initial lead before some fans had settled into their seats, as Josh Chavez scored to make it a 1-0 game. Though the fast start might have seemed at the time like it was portending a high-scoring barrage for the Eagles, that proved to be not at all the case, as the one-goal lead held through halftime and well into the second half. There were chance for Hobbs, some good looks at the net, but nothing that could find its way in and increase the margin.
Halftime brought a ceremony to honor seniors Misael Orona, Jose Mesta, Jesus Lopez, Yahir Chacon, Middleton, Jesus Hidalgo, Ivan Segiovia, and Kilian Morales. After the second half began, the scoring drought continued for nearly 10 minutes.
Finally, Hobbs found the net again. Chacon had the ball on the left side of the field and perfectly centered a pass to Juan Camano, who headed it in to give the Eagles a 2-0 edge with 30:25 to play in the second half.
It didn’t take nearly as long for Hobbs to score again, as Chavez struck for his second goal at the 28:40 mark to make it 3-0.
For a while longer the Eagles appeared to be on their way to a fairly comfortable win, perhaps even a shutout. But with 17:26 to play in the half, Ihab Mesbah scored for Clovis, slicing the difference to 3-1. And with 7:14 left, Angel Nunez scored for the Wildcats, bringing them within 3-2.
“That’s what happens when you lose focus for five, 10 minutes,” Chavez said. “Anything can change in a heartbeat.”
The Eagles clung to the slim lead for a few more minutes before getting their fourth goal with 3:32 remaining. It came off a Chacon corner kick from the right side, with the ball sailing left on a date with destiny – or more specifically, with Middleton’s head.
“That’s actually something I struggled with personally in practice,” Middleton said. “And Coach says, ‘Keep your eyes on it, keep your head up.’ So I worked on it, and I finally got one in with my head. It felt really good.”
Middleton said it’s a wild scene around the goal on a corner kick.
“It’s really chaotic,” he noted. “You just have to time it, look at it when it’s coming at you, and put your head on it.”
Minutes later, the Eagles’ fifth district victory was official and they were looking ahead to one last regular-season game on Tuesday at Carlsbad.
“We just have to keep playing,” Middleton said, “keep playing hard.”