Hobbs soccer keeps perfect record
The number one ranked boys soccer team in New Mexico is still perfect.
Hobbs hosted Gadsden Saturday afternoon at Watson Memorial Stadium in the quarterfinal round of the NMAA Class 5A state tournament and the Eagles won, beating the visiting Panthers 4-2.
“Hats off to Gadsden, they came to play and they made it difficult on us,” Hobbs coach Reyes Marquez said. “Ultimately we talk about ride the wave out a little bit and I promise you we will be rewarded. We didn’t panic and we just kept grinding, and we went to work.”
While the Eagles never trailed in the game, the win didn’t come easy.
Entering the game, the Eagles were coming off back-to-back seasons in which they lost in the quarterfinals at home while coming off a first round bye. The season before, the Eagles were the No. 1 seed and lost, at home, in the semifinals. After the game, Marquez told his team they got the monkey off their backs.
“These guys kept talking about the last three years how they got bounced,” Marquez said. “I knew about last year, but I wasn’t aware it was the last three years. I just don’t look that far back. But it feels good and you see the smiles on their faces. They battled.”
Hobbs scored first when Joshua Chavez netted his team-leading 24th goal of the season with 22:04 left on the clock in the first half off an assist from Alexis Sanchez.
“That first goal was all momentum,” Chavez said. “I felt like we had to get the first goal to seal our momentum because we have been playing good.”
However, as quickly as the Eagles took the early lead, Gadsden, the No. 8 seed, answered right back, scoring on free kick with 18:36 left in the first half.
“It was very important,” Chavez said of never trailing. “Sometimes the boys feel like giving up, but everybody picks each other up and play their hardest and get back up. That is why we stay where we are.”
Three minutes later, the Eagles re-took the lead when Sanchez set up Jorge Martinez on a free kick. Martinez took Sanchez’s kick and knocked the ball into the back of the net with his head, giving Hobbs a 2-1 lead.
That’s where the score remained at the break.
In the second half, Gadsden knotted the game at 2-2 with 22:13 remaining.
“It was a battle,” the Eagles’ coach said. “This team has been battle-tested. Early in the season, we go down to a really good (Albuquerque) Academy team that scored right off the bat. We didn’t panic, we just kept going to work and we were able to bounced back. That taught us some composure and not to panic. Our defense played stellar.”
The Eagles re-established the lead with 10:22 to play when Frankie Lagos scored off a free kick from Sanchez from about 10 yards out. The assist was Sanchez’s third of the game and his 12th of the season. Lagos’ goal was his 15th of the season. Fifty seconds later the Eagles added onto their lead when Juan Caamano netted an insurance goal off an assist from Lagos, his eighth of the season.
“We are an opportunistic team,” Marquez said. “If it presents itself, we just have to keep attacking. We attack in waves and we have been doing that all year. We didn’t answer the first two times and we let them back in, but this time were were going to seal it off.“
The Eagles finished with 17 total shots, 10 coming in the second half.
Gadsden finishes the season with a mark of 14-8.
With the win, Hobbs improves to 21-0 on the season. The Eagles will now host No. 4 seed Centennial (16-3-2) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Watson Memorial Stadium. Like the Eagles and the Panthers, Hobbs and Centennial have faced off on the pitch this season. The Eagles beat the Hawks 3-2 in Las Cruces back in September.
“We have Centennial on Wednesday,” the Eagles’ coach said. “It will be a little bit of a rematch. We will get everybody healed up (today) and Monday, and go to work.”