FARMINGTON— The season is off to a great start for the Aztec boys soccer team.
Hosting the season-opening Tiger Tournament Shootout, the Tigers claimed the title, breaking through the Grants defense time and time again for a 5-2 win Saturday evening at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.
"It wasn't as pretty as I would have liked, but the boys worked hard and the credit goes to them. They're doing what needs to be done on the field," said Aztec head coach Steve Scales.
During the first half Aztec and Grants split time of possession with both sides getting multiple scoring opportunities.
Aztec struck first when Bailey Watkins got behind the Pirates back line and put a hard shot on goal. Grants goalkeeper Joseph Hayes was able to deflect Watkin's strike, but Zakk Kimble was there to clean up the rebound and put the Tigers ahead 1-0 in the eighth minute.
Grants answered in the 33rd minute on some miscommunication between Aztec keeper Canyon Goimarac and defenseman Brandon Stafford that allowed Pirate forward Tyler Hickman to sneak in the tying goal.
With Hickman's goal it looked as though the two sides would enter the half even, but in the final minute of play Grants failed to clear a Tiger corner leaving the ball in the box long enough for Watkins to gather and score, giving the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Throughout the first half Aztec was able to counter and get behind the pressing Pirate defense, a trend that continued in the second half when in the 42nd minute Kimble broke though the Pirate defense, putting his shot in the upper-right 90 for his second goal of the match.
Not to be outdone by his fellow forward, Watkins got another chance in the 47th minute and converted, making it 4-1 and putting the game out of reach.
After Grants' Benjamin Silva cut the lead to two sending in a cross from the right side, Aztec sophomore Riley Barber broke through the Pirate defense and added the Tigers fifth goal as an exclamation point in the game's 78th minute.
"Riley getting that last one really came from them pressing and us counterattacking, which really isn't our game, but it worked out in the end for us," Scales said.
The Tigers will be back in action Thursday when they travel to Grants for a rematch of the Shootout final and another opportunity for the Tigers to continue to improve.
"As a whole we need to improve on everything, all the time," Scales said. "It's a long season. This is a good start to the season and it's always nice to win your own tournament."