The Cougars (8-0-1) put together a solid effort of their own and topped the Raiders 3-1 in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard showed.
“We’re starting to get everybody back from injuries and we’re starting to actually play touch ball, give and goes, and play as a team, not give up after a first or second goal,” Martinez said. “Even though we lost 3-1, I’d rather take a loss like this than the loss where we lose 4-0 and everybody gives up at halftime. Everybody played through the whole game.”
Reed fell to 4-4-1 with the loss.
With the whipping wind at its back, Spanish Springs opened the game with a vicious offensive onslaught that resulted in six corner kicks in the first 20 minutes. Victor Garcia led the charge, getting three shots off in the first 18 minutes.
Garcia appeared to put his squad up 1-0 in the fifth minute when he sent a roller past Reed’s goalie, Jesse Morales, but Michael Karsten chased the ball down and cleared it.
After fighting off several Spanish Springs scoring opportunities, Reed was handed a gift in the 29th minute. Spanish Springs’ Nestor Azenon aggressively slide tackled Reed’s captain, Adrian Lopez, and was given a red card.
With a man advantage over the Cougars, Lopez streaked down the left sideline three minutes later and sent a cross to a wide open Kevin McPartland in front of the net but the cross was behind McPartland and the opportunity was missed.
“We couldn’t capitalize on that,” Martinez said.
One minute later, Jonathon Garcia gave the Cougars the 1-0 lead after he got Morales to jump and he snuck the ball under the keeper.
The Cougars' lead remained 1-0 into the half despite putting eight shots on goal to Reed’s zero.
Even with the convincing win, Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland thought his team could have finished with a more successful night.
“We could have passed it even a little more. We could have scored more goals,” Moreland said. “We had guys making good runs but we’re not seeing them still.”
Garcia continued to give the Reed defensive line trouble in the second half. In the 50th minute, Garcia spun around a Raider defender in the goal box before finding an unmarked Jesus Gonzalez, who chipped the ball over Morales into the far post corner from 12 yards out.
After failing to put together an offensive threat outside of the early missed opportunity from Lopez to McPartland, Elio Martinez outran a Cougars defender in the 66th minute and slid to get to the ball first, sending the ball over Omar Trujillo, the Cougars' goalie, to narrow the gap to one.
Garcia added an insurance tally, and his second assist of the game, in the 77th minute, showing off his blazing speed down the length of the field on the right sideline before sending a cross to a wide open Ricardo Camacho who tapped the ball into an open net.
The Cougars got off 16 shots on goal compared to Reed’s one. Morales made 19 saves for Reed while Trujillo was only forced to make one save outside of Martinez’s tally.
Wednesday’s game marked the halfway point through the HDL schedule for both teams and both coaches are happy with their team’s position.
“I think we’re doing well,” Moreland said. “I think we have a long way to go still ... It’s always up and down. So if they keep their heads and we keep playing well, I think we’ll take the whole thing.”
With four league losses, Martinez’s assessment was not as positive but he believes his team can put together a second-half run as his team returns to full health.
“I think we’re above average,” Martinez said. “I think the game against McQueen we should have won, against Hug, the same thing.”
The Raiders and Cougars both return to action Saturday. Reed hosts Reno and Spanish Springs hosts North Valleys. Both games will kick off at 1 p.m.