The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Portales boys soccer team gets playoff bid after all


October 24, 2017

PORTALES — Nathan Dodge didn’t know what to do with himself. The Class A-4A soccer playoff selection show was scheduled to air on Pro View Networks at 5 p.m. Sunday. That was a long time for Dodge to wait and see if his Portales boys soccer team made it in.

“I tried to go find anything to do yesterday to keep my mind off that,” Dodge, the Rams’ head coach, said during Monday afternoon’s practice at Portales High School.

Finally, 5 p.m. Sunday rolled around. And about five minutes into the show, Dodge and the Rams got the news they had hoped for — they were in the playoffs as a ninth seed. They will visit eighth-seeded New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell this Saturday, with game time slated for 3 p.m.

“Oh, we’re excited,” Dodge said. “I wasn’t sure about us making it.”

Dodge and the team were on pins and needles about their playoff chances after last Saturday’s 1-0 overtime loss at NMMI. Though the Rams had edged NMMI by the same score in regulation on Thursday, they thought they might have needed to bag both games for a postseason shot.

“We thought we weren’t going to make it,” senior defender/center back Julian Tellez said.

“They told us we had to win that (second NMMI) game,” sophomore midfielder Jesus Chavez said. “When we lost, we were sad and disappointed. But (Sunday) when the bracket came out and we saw our name in there, it changed our whole mood.”

They have this week to prepare, to work on getting that opening-round win. Having played NMMI twice so recently gives the Rams the advantage of familiarity. They need only short memories to know what they did right against the Colts, and what they did wrong.

“We can’t have any mental breakdowns,” Dodge said. “(We have to) make sure we’re communicating at all times. Offensively, make sure we’re not just kicking it around.”

“We have to trust our teammates,” Chavez said, “and play with our hearts out there on the field.”

“Just possession of the ball,” Tellez said, “and not getting fatigued. I think a lot of us were fatigued in overtime (last Saturday).”

And, they want to maximize their offensive opportunities.

“Take shots,” Tellez said. “We were taking shots (in last Saturday’s game), but they weren’t going in.”

“In our first two games (against NMMI) we had a lot of possessions, shots on goal,” Chavez said. “We’re looking for the same thing. Hopefully, the shots go in.”

Dodge is somewhat proud of his team’s ninth seed, considering how competitive the district is. “Our district is one of the toughest in the state,” he said. But, that seed is also forcing Portales on the road this weekend.

Could be worse, Dodge points out.

“We’re not traveling across the state,” he said. “We’re just going 90 miles down the state. If we’ve got to travel, I don’t mind traveling to Roswell.”

Wherever they play, the Rams are ready. They’ve been given the opportunity for more soccer, an opportunity to play as long as they win. They’d certainly love to start it off by topping NMMI, after last weekend’s outcome.

“We want to get revenge,” Tellez said. “We lost in the last 30 seconds on an unlucky goal. So, we’ll get ’em on Saturday.”

“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Chavez said. “We know they’re going to be ready. They know we’re going to be ready, so we’ll just work hard. ... We know they have a decent team. We’re just looking for a good game, and winning, and hopefully making it to the championship.”


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