The Madera Coyotes boys soccer team capitalized on a late surge in the first half to beat County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals Sanger 2-1 in Memorial Stadium.
“It was a difficult game,” head coach Nic Landeros said. “Sanger is a good team, but we grinded it out. We made some formation adjustments to kind of clog the middle and I think it worked better for us. We found our rotation and some guys off the bench stepped up big time.”
The Coyotes seized the lead late in the first half and were able to hold on and close out the game after they tightened up defensively after halftime.
“Our biggest problem has been not being able to close out games,” Landeros said. “We kind of just congested the middle a bit after switching our formation so that way everything from them had to be over the top and long and it would just roll back to our keeper so it was pretty easy to defend. We just kept them in front of us and stayed organized.”
The Coyotes showed promise early after a combination play between Salvador Chavez and Jose Venegas threatened inside the opponent final third in the seventh minute. The attacking play fizzled out after the Coyotes couldn’t find the right pass.
The Apaches took the lead in the 11th minute after the attacker headed a corner kick in for a goal.
The Coyotes had a chance in the 18th minute when Antonio Hernandez fired from 20 yards out but missed wide left.
Madera eventually scored in the 32nd minute after Gerardo Cabrera delicately tiptoed around the goalkeeper to equalize the game.
The Coyotes continued their strong end to the half after Raul Rivera scored from inside the penalty area but was ruled offside.
The second goal would come in the 38th minute after Rivera received the pass from Johnny Rodriguez, who hit the 30-yard free kick into the box. Rivera latched onto the ball and gave the Coyotes the go-ahead goal before halftime.
The Coyotes came out of the first half in control as they dominated possession. The Apaches had chances few and far between after the Coyotes were able to step up their defensive pressure.
In the last minute of the match, Coyote goalkeeper Juan Daza made an incredible one-legged save to keep the Coyotes on the winning end of a close match.
The Coyotes had a few chances going forward in the second half, but the damage had already been done. The team bounced back after their loss to hometown rivals Madera South to earn a well-deserved conference win.