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Lady Coyotes earn even record on the season

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Roswell’s Mariana Maldonado shoots the ball past Jazmin Garza of Portales to score during Tuesday’s game at Cielo Grande Soccer Complex. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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For Roswell girls’ soccer coach Samantha Ward, she hopes this season is not like last season. Her team started fast going 7-0, only to struggle at the end of the season. A big part of the reason the team struggled is they moved up in classification.

Roswell is going to be awfully young this season, but they have hope that all is not lost. In every game they have played in this season, they have been competitive and are learning to win. On Tuesday night, Roswell received a pair of goals from sophomore Mariana Maldonado, who is the team’s leading goal scorer with four. Maldonado’s presence around the net gives the Lady Coyotes hope that they are never out of a game.

“Maldonado started last year for us in the center,” Ward said. “We moved her up top. She’s a captain for us and she’s not going to come off the field. We look to her to be our leader. She leads off and on the field, she works harder than anyone out here right now and she sets the example.”

Maldonado has sprinter speed to the ball and if she is not scoring, she is able to help set her teammates up to score goals as well as she did on Tuesday night. Maldonado received help from her teammates, freshman Alyssa Campos added a goal and another sophomore, Anahi Sierra scored to give them a 4-0 victory over Portales Tuesday night at Cielo Grande Soccer Complex.

“Today, we started off a little sluggish,” Ward said. “It was a hard weekend — we came off a really tough weekend at the Alien City Tournament. We knew today was going to be a little sluggish just due to fatigue and things like that. We have really a young group that’s promising.”

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The team has 12 returning players to varsity and seven seniors, which Ward hopes will provide leadership to the young freshmen and sophomores that will be playing this season. Ward feels like getting off to such a good start last season might have hurt the team in some way.

“I think starting off so well last year hurt us,” Ward said. “I think starting off a little slower this season is going to open our eyes a little bit and make us work a little bit harder.”

This season, the team is 2-2, having lost to Goddard and Artesia. What Ward would like to do is get her team seasoned for tough games so that when district comes around, they will not be shocked by the level of competition or the toughness in 5A.

Ward is not looking at this as a rebuilding season, she has confidence in her team and she is not shy about playing freshmen. At one point during the game, Ward had five freshmen on the field at the same time. This season, as always with Ward, is about winning.

“Last year, I just wanted to be varsity and play,” Maldonado said. “This year, I have more opportunities up top to score. This year, I start forward and I feel like this season is great already.

Ward feels happy about the way her summer program went — the team did a lot of conditioning, passing drills and ball control drills, as well.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Ward said, “and building off of that, and keep moving forward.”

Roswell will travel to Aztec and play them at 6 p.m., on Friday.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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