Coyotes thankful to be on the pitch
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera goalkeeper Christopher Arias sends a ball up the field on a free kick. Arias made eight saves in last week’s loss to the Clovis Cougars.
It’s been over a year since the Madera Coyotes boys soccer team last played on the pitch. Through countless setbacks, starting and then having to stop multiple times, head coach Nic Landeros and his Coyotes are thankful for a chance to play again.
“We’re just lucky to be back out here after all of the uncertainty around the season,” Landeros said. “The boys are happy to be back out here and it’s just a matter of time before we get our tactics and fitness down. But overall, we are just happy to be back.”
The Coyotes made their return at home in Madera Memorial Stadium against Tri-River Athletic Conference foe Clovis High. The Cougars took the contest 3-0 behind two second half goals on March 11.
Due to complications because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all outdoor sports are now crammed into a hectic final few months of the school year, but as Landeros said, just having the ability to be back on the pitch is a blessing in itself.
For the Coyotes boys soccer team, the future looks bright.
Under the leadership of Landeros, the Coyotes have steadily improved over the last two years. The Coyotes beat Madera South last year, 2-0, in one of their more impressive victories. The Coyotes also recorded impressive draws against the Buchanan-Clovis Bears and the Clovis North Broncos.
It goes to show the positive direction that the boys are currently on.
“Our team is coming along well and although we haven’t been able to have the time needed, the boys are practicing hard and the tactics will come as they continue to get more time out here,” Landeros said.
The game itself started in favor of the visiting Cougars.
An early goal in the first half and two goals in the second half put the Coyotes behind, but the boys continued to fight, including Coyote’s goalkeeper Chris Arias.
The junior shot stopper faced 11 shots on target, saving eight. The shot stopper showed his athletic prowess with a diving stop to his right late in the match to keep the Cougars off the scoresheet.
Although, early in the season and just trying to get back into the swing of things, Arias looks to be in midseason form and, for the Coyotes, that can only mean good things.
Despite the score line, the Coyotes stayed engaged within the match and offered a few daring chances on their own.
Captain and midfielder Elmer Garcia nearly brought the game level late in the first half with a powerful strike from 25 yards out. The ball sliced through the air, narrowly missing its target as the ball glanced right.
Garcia was a strong presence throughout the match, retrieving and distributing the ball, but also acting as the voice for the team.
Despite the Coyotes loss, there were positives to take away this early in the season and, of course, with how difficult things have been.
Not knowing what was going to come might’ve been the hardest part of the process.
“Definitely the unknown, are we going to play, is this going to be a canceled season,” Landeros said. “We started training and then had to stop and it was just a very tough process, not only for us as coaches but for the players too. We missed time and we can’t get that back.”
Despite the setbacks, Landeros is going to have his boys playing Coyote soccer and if the last few years have shown anything about this group of Coyotes, they have a bright season ahead.