KINGMAN – A season ago it took eight games for the Kingman High School girls soccer team to tally its first win. That won’t be the case this year as the Lady Bulldogs only needed four games to accomplish the same feat in a 3-1 victory Thursday over Wickenburg.
“It was a great win,” said Kingman head coach David Kopecky. “It takes the weight off your shoulders when you get that first win.”
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage when Hunter Leyva connected on a penalty kick in the 32nd minute. Kingman’s Elvira Torres added to the lead in the 48th minute on a great shot.
“Elvira’s first goal was a battle royale,” Kopecky said. “She basically walked it into the back of the net.”
The Lady Wranglers (1-3, 0-1 3A Northwest Region) answered in the 70th minute on Adriana Avila’s goal, but Torres gave her team some breathing room with her second goal as she ran away from defenders in the 74th minute for a 3-1 lead.
“We stepped up when we had to,” Kopecky said. “We’re playing with confidence, but we just need to build on this.”
However, Kopecky was quick to mention Wickenburg was playing its third game in four days and that could have affected the final result.
“Give Wickenburg a lot of credit because they played two of the hardest teams in the state Monday and Tuesday,” Kopecky said. “Yuma Catholic and Fountain Hills are really good teams.”
The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, were taking the pitch for the first time since Saturday at the Mohave County Tournament.
Nevertheless, Kingman proved it can be a threat this season.
“We have a really young team, for the most part,” Kopecky said. “Hopefully they realize they can play, they can win and they can be competitive. Sometimes when you get beaten on, it’s hard to keep your head up. So hopefully they realize, ‘Hey we can do this. We’re just as good as anyone else out there if we play as good as we can play.’”
The Lady Bulldogs (1-3, 0-1 3A Northwest Region) welcome Sedona Red Rock (1-2, 0-1 3A Metro North Region) to town at noon Saturday.
Wickenburg 4, Kingman 2
At KHS, the Bulldogs put up a great defensive effort Thursday night against Wickenburg, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough in a 4-2 setback to the Wranglers.
“Our goaltending was there and we stayed a little defensive with six players back most of the time,” said Kingman head coach Kevin Roberts. “Caleb Grimmett had some great saves on the defensive end as well. He’s there to help and be there just in case. And he’s done it every single game we’ve played – he’s had a couple of saves and he’s a defender. That’s really good.”
Grimmett not only excelled on defense, but also scored the Bulldogs’ first goal on a header at the 22:34 mark to tie the game 1-1.
The score would remain knotted at halftime before Wickenburg tallied consecutive goals in the second half to take a 3-1 advantage with 17:19 remaining.
Kingman was down, but not out as Jahir Boo sent a cross to Malakai Bell and the freshman headed it in to cut the deficit to 3-2 at the 16:37 mark.
“Both of our scores were on headers and that’s why we practice corner kicks,” Roberts said.
The Bulldogs had a few opportunities to tie the contest late in the match, but ultimately the Wranglers (3-1-1) scored with 12.8 seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Roberts was proud of how competitive Kingman played against an opponent that dominated them a season ago.
“Last year we lost to these guys 10-0,” he said. “So with us finally starting to get ball control and playing physical. I’m glad we’re actually doing that.”
The Bulldogs (1-3, 1-0 3A Northwest) host Sedona Red Rock (1-0-2, 1-0 3A Metro North) at 2 p.m. Saturday.