EL DORADO — Union Mine hosted El Dorado in Sierra Valley Conference action Tuesday, a matchup that wound up a 1-1 draw while exposing different perspectives from each respective program.
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For the Diamondbacks, the tie was a record of how far the program had come.
“It’s really difficult,” Diamondback head coach Jason Bourdett said. “When you only have these players for a couple of months. You can’t try and tell them everything you’d like to tell them — you have to give them time to feel out their positions and hopefully someone will step up and help lead the team to a higher level.”
Tuesday night that leader was Brian Lehner who snapped a 0-0 deadlock in the 52nd minute with a powerful right-footed one-timer from well beyond the box. Lehner’s blast cleared the outstretched arms of Cougar keeper Dan Snyder, and fans erupted in cheers amidst what was a misty, crisp evening in the stadium.
“I think when we play El Dorado there’s that extra little spark,” Bourdett said. “They’ve worked hard to progress and play together as a team — and we were much better this time around.”
El Dorado beat Union Mine handily in the intra-county rivals’ previous meeting, toppling the D’backs 4-0. Head coach Joe Champion has created steady progress in the Cougar ranks this fall and expected better than a tie.
“We played terrible,” Champion said. “One of the worst games we’ve played all season. I think we were a little lazy, we reacted throughout the match as opposed to initiating play.”
El Dorado looked dominant for the first three minutes, firing on goal from a variety of angles. None of the attempts proved fruitful, however, and the Cougars seemed complacent in style of play all the way up until Lehner’s wake-up call with 28 minutes left.
Responding in force, El Dorado took advantage of a soft, high arcing cross from Oscar Santana-Castillo, and after some scuffling in traffic, San McCrea notched a goal with a high redirect off the bounce to even it up in the 79th minute.
A handful of breakaway opportunities presented themselves to both teams but offside flags nullified the runs.
“The guys really stepped up tonight,” D’back junior Esteban Gonzales said after the match. “We went through practice with a plan and executed it well tonight — everyone played their part and came through — it’s been really good.”
Brandon Anicich can be contacted at [email protected]