ELKO – The Elko boys soccer team went off Friday.
After scoring twice in the first half against Incline, the Indians hung up five goals in the final 40 minutes – routing the Highlanders, 7-1.
The Indians took advantage of an Incline error, which led to the first goal of the ballgame.
As the Incline goalie advanced forward on a long shot, he slid to the ground and missed the scoop.
As the ball squirted free, Elko junior Raul Cortez was there to the collection, gaining possession and punching home a shot into the open frame on the right side.
As the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, the advantage was short-lived.
The Highlanders attempted to play a long ball over the top, but Elko’s back defender on the left side as looking from the Indians’ goal was there and had plenty of room.
Instead of clearing the ball, he made too many touches and allowed the offense to advance – turning the ball back over to Incline.
When the Highlanders set up around the box, No. 24 – names not listed on Incline’s roster – gathered the ball, worked around a couple defenders and unleashed an attempt around Elko’s line – bending it like Beckham.
The short curled around Elko’s defense from the right to the left and smacked off the far-left post, deflecting into the frame.
The shot tied the contest 1-1 in the 15th minute.
Elko bounced back, routinely winning possession of the ball and often playing right in front of Incline’s frame.
The Indians earned a corner kick from the right side and elected to keep the ball on the ground.
Incline initially put a body and some feet on the ball, but Elko made a couple stabs on deflections – junior Natu Meles cleaning up the mess from the right side of the box with a clean look for the Indians’ second goal in the 18th minute.
The Indians made several aggressive advances toward the Highlanders’ goal, but shots were often smacked straight off the gloves of the goalkeeper.
Meles, senior Jorge Landeros and Cortez fired shots from a favorable distance – Landeros narrowly missing a header attempt as he climbed the ladder.
As Elko’s shots began to mount without finding the net, the Indians became impatient and started launching kicks from too far out – booming balls directly to the goalkeeper or sailing shots well over the frame.
The game went to half with Elko on top, 2-1.
In the second half, the Indians went back to playing patient offense.
After near scores by Landeros and Meles, Cortez beat his defender and found a one-on-one opportunity with the advancing goalie.
He used some quick, effective footwork and faked his way free for an open-net goal right down the middle.
Cortez’s second goal of the game gave the Indians a two-goal lead in the sixth minute of the second half.
Incline dodged a near-score by Elko at the right post in the 65th minute, the ball bouncing off the legs of the goalie and out of harm’s way.
The Highlanders found one of their best chances to score in quite some time, attempting to play a long ball down the right side to No. 19.
He turned and to his left and found a look at the frame, but the shot was sent straight to Elko senior goalie Ryan Skidmore.
In the 58th minute, a pass was dropped back and crossed to the middle at the top of the 18-yard box to Elko junior Julian Gonzalez, who nailed the ball high over the crossbar.
Through a similar play, freshman Freddy Cervantes found a nearly-identical look – coming even closer on a ball that missed high.
Landeros waited on a diagonal pass to the outside of the field on the right, ripping a hard kick that went over the frame.
Moments later, Landeros made a turn and freed himself for another clean look from the same spot – the shot also sailing up.
With 15 minutes remaining, Elko senior Michael Iguban worked toward the right post and fired an attempt – the Incline goalie kicking the ball away with his foot.
Elko was awarded a direct kick from long distance, but senior Andres Salas’ boot went well beyond the goal.
On a cross to the middle of the box, Meles stamped a right foot on the ball from his first touch – the shot going straight in the air.
Cervantes broke through with five minutes remaining.
He appeared to set up and make a pass in the middle of the field, instead choosing for a shot – good call.
Incline made a play in the middle of Elko’s box, Skidmore sliding for a deflection.
In the closing moments, junior Sammy Aguirre nearly cashed a shot from the left side after dribbling past the defense – his far-side attempt clanging off the right upright.
He got his revenge less than two minute later, giving the Indians a 5-1 lead.
A play by Landeros set up Cortez for his third goal of the game, receiving a pass from the right in the middle of the field.
The Indians grabbed a 6-1 advantage and kept looking for more.
Landeros distributed once more, sending a ball from the right of the box back to the heart of the pitch, Aguirre heading a goal into the frame in the final seconds – Landeros’ dish giving him his third assist.
The Indians stormed to a 7-1 victory.
“I liked what we did a lot more in the second half. We passed the ball, and we made those runs,” said Elko coach Alonso Lujan. “That was how we are supposed to play.”
The Indians improved to 2-2 in league play of the Division 3A North and will face South Tahoe – which defeated Spring Creek by a final score of 3-0 on Friday – at noon Saturday at Adobe Middle School.