The Crook County High School boys soccer team is struggling to find their identity.
At times on Tuesday, the Cowboys looked like a strong team. At other times they looked disorganized and made mistakes as the Cowboys fell 4-2 to the Dallas Dragons in non-league soccer action.
"This compared to our other game (a 6-2 loss to Madras)," Crook County head coach Ramone Castañeda said. "Just easy goals — giving up those easy goals."
Dallas dominated time of possession early in the match. The Dragons had a good scoring opportunity five minutes into the match, but Crook County goalkeeper Joseph Miller, made a good stop. Two minutes later, Dallas nearly scored when Miller ended up on the ground in front of the goal. However, defender Cainen Smith was able to deflect the ball away from the goal, leading to a Dallas corner kick.
Then, 14 minutes into the half, the Dragons finally broke through as Carson Overstreet drilled a ball into the back of the Cowboy net.
Dallas continued to pressure the Cowboys, with Overstreet scoring again 17 minutes into the match to give the Dragons a 2-0 lead.
Following that goal, the Cowboys played better, finally breaking through and scoring a goal with 1:40 left in the first half as Kevin Arroyo took a perfect pass from Elias Villagomez and slipped behind the Dragon defense for an easy goal.
Crook County appeared to make some adjustments at the half, and the Cowboys controlled the action early in the second half and had several opportunities to tie the match.
"We just motivated them," Castañeda said of the difference in the second half. "Motivated them to play and not give up those mistakes."
However, once again, a mistake led to an easy Dallas goal.
The Dragons intercepted an errant Crook County pass and used their speed to race down the field with the ball. Facing pressure, a Crook County defender kicked the ball out on the end line, giving the Dragons a corner kick.
Crook County stopped the initial attack, with Miller deflecting a shot out in front of the goal. However, no Cowboys went to the ball and Ethan Fech headed it into the goal, giving the Dragons a 3-1 lead.
The Cowboys continued to control the action the remainder of the half. However, as time went on and they missed scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity, players began yelling at each other. As the half went on, things broke down even further, with players engaging with adults on the sidelines.
Despite the distractions, the Cowboys continued to get scoring opportunities, missing several shots wide or over the top of the goal.
In addition, Dallas goalkeeper Robert Phillips made a number of stops denying the Cowboys several times when it looked like they would score.
The Cowboys made one final defensive error with just over 10 minutes remaining and Dallas took advantage with Overstreet scoring his third goal of the match.
Late in the match, the Cowboys finally broke through for their second goal as Mitch Warren took the ball near midfield and drove down the middle of the field, passing at the last minute to Kevin Sanchez. Sanchez put the ball over a diving Phillips, then leaped over the fallen goalkeeper and raced to the front of the goal where he kicked the ball into the open net.
"It was really important to get that goal," Warren said. "When it gets to the last two minutes, everyone kind of gives up and I knew that the ball had to be on our side where we can score. If it's on their side the whole time it's not giving us a good rep of our program, so I knew that I had to get the ball up the field and get it to one of my teammates because I'm not the strongest finisher. I knew that if I could get it to a strong finisher, he could do the work for me."
The Cowboys had one last scoring opportunity in the final minute of the match, but were unable to score on a last-second corner kick.
Following the match, the Cowboys talked about working together better as a team and not yelling at teammates or engaging with spectators.
"We are making progress," Warren said. "We are taking big steps. We are communicating better. We are passing. Our No. 1 thing is passing because last year we did not pass the ball one time. By the time we get to the league season, I want no arguing on the field. I just want a 'hey you did good. Next time let's try this a little bit better,' instead of all the yelling."
With the win, the Dragons improved to 2-0, while Crook County fell to 0-2. The Cowboys are at home again on Saturday when they take on the La Pine Hawks, 0-0-1, in a 3 p.m. match.
The two teams met earlier in the season at the Sisters Jamboree with the Cowboys taking the 30-minute game 2-1.
Following Saturday's match, Crook County does not play again until Thursday, Sept. 19, when they go on the road to face the Class 6A Sandy Pioneers, 1-1-1, in a rare night match with play starting at 7 p.m.
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