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Prep boys soccer: Lopez Cruz nets two goals as Bearcats extend winning streak

Mar. 29—BOX SCORE

At Chehalis

BEARCATS 2, WARRIORS 0

Rochester 0 0 — 0

W.F. West 2 0 — 2

Scoring Summary

WFW (11') — Uzi Lopez Cruz (free kick)

WFW (25') — Lopez Cruz

Some starters were missing. The legs were rested, but didn't have game repetition for a week. The nerves of keeping an unblemished record were bubbling.

There were potential cracks in W.F. West High School's boys soccer team. Uzi Lopez Cruz applied the glue not once, but twice on Friday night.

The junior buried two goals in the first half that wound up as the difference in the Bearcats' 2-0 triumph over Rochester in a Class 2A Evergreen Conference matchup in Chehalis.

"I just really wanted to score, we just needed a goal," Lopez Cruz said.

For the fourth consecutive match, W.F. West (7-1, 6-0 EvCo) pitched a shutout. It has been over 350 minutes since it allowed a goal and heads into spring break on a seven-match win streak and alone in first atop the standings.

Something that head coach Allen Anderson would have been thrilled with when the season started.

"It has been a great first half," Anderson said.

Lopez Cruz buried a free kick into the top left corner that went over a Rochester defender's head and the hand of goalie Ezra Aliff in the 11th minute to light up the scoreboard.

Then 14 minutes later — on a counter-attack — the midfielder took a dribble and from 25-plus yards, launched a shot that went over Aliff's glove and into the back of the net to double the Bearcats' cushion.

"Before I got the ball, I saw the goalkeeper was pretty far (up)," Lopez Cruz said. "I decided when I got the ball, I was going to shoot it. I just practice a lot during my free time."

At times, senior Jeremy Thompson gets lost in watching Lopez Cruz dribbling by defenders and making something happen.

"I'll just like stop," Thompson said with a laugh. "That was a good goal."

W.F. West took 14 total shots and eight of them were on frame. Goalkeeper Josh Madrigal earned the start and finished with six saves, three per half. He turned away two early chances in the first 90 seconds and halted Rochester's flurry in the last 40 minutes.

Which made it frustrating for Warriors head coach Matt Ashton.

"We lost some confidence," he stated. "We talked about the mental side of it that we seem to be having issues with right now. Had more opportunities (in the second half)."

Rochester had five total shots and three on frame in the second half. It had three corner kicks and several chances, including a header from Javier Paredes Garcia that sailed wide.

After beating Shelton 2-1 last Friday, the Warriors scored once versus Tumwater and were shutout for the first time in 11 days.

"We're too good of a team not to be scoring," Ashton said. "We have to figure out what is going on. Instead of just turning with the ball and shooting, we're taking one or two extra little touches. They're trying too hard to find the right spot or get it on their strong foot."

Thompson admitted the Bearcats let their foot off the gas at times.

"They had really good chances," he said.

W.F. West will come out of the break facing Shelton, Aberdeen and Tumwater with the last two on the road. Anderson believes it will test his group's mentality and maturity.

"We know full well that every team in the league is going to be coming out and is giving us their best game," Anderson said. "We can't let up."

Rochester goes on the road four times in the second half against league foes, but Ashton thinks this break comes at a good time. He stated he'll have two starters from last year back in the fold.

"We can turn the page and start fresh," Ashton said. "If we do what we did in the first half, we should be in a position for the playoffs."