NEWBERRY — The Bulldogs boys varsity soccer team faced a gritty Laurens club at Mike Ware Field on Wednesday for the final game of regular season play.
Prior to the game, senior Bulldog players Ernesto Bautista, Rudolpho Sosa, Joel Alvarez, Jose Lozano and Alberto Rodriguez were recognized for their contributions to a successful season.
Although the Raiders brought only 11 players, they were able to craft a predominantly defensive strategy to conserve energy and minimize Newberry scoring opportunities.
It took almost 15 minutes for the ‘Dogs to find a seam in the packed Raider defense. With 26:30 remaining in the half, Jerry Ezesarte found an opening down the sideline and dished to Erick Arroyo who made a touch-pass to Joel Alvarez. Alvarez maneuvered for a one-on-one with the Laurens keeper and struck for a 1-0 lead.
The gritty Laurens team stuck with their strategy and it paid off when, with seven minutes left in the half, Newberry was called for a foul near mid-field. The free kick was right on target to a Lauren forward who slipped by the defense for the tying goal. The half ended tied at one apiece.
With no substitutes to call upon, the Laurens team couldn’t keep up with the ‘Dogs in the second half. Newberry was able to get the ball in the box on multiple occasions, but the Raiders kept the middle congested and successfully cleared to the outside.
With 25:14 left in the game, Ezesarte received the ball in the center of the field about 30 yards out. He moved the ball forward and passed on the left to Logan Ransdell who nailed a shot past the keeper for a 2-1 lead. Then, with 11:41 remaining, a crisp-passing combination from Umberto Alvarez to Joel Alvarez set up Erick Arroyo on the right.
Arroyo made a beautiful curving shot that froze the keeper toward the middle of the goal as it sliced-into the net by the right post. To cap-off the regular season, Alberto Rodriguez distracted Coach Cornelius Cromer while the remaining players provided him with the obligatory Gatorade bath. The 3-1 victory puts the Bulldogs at 13-3 for the year as they head into the playoffs.