Panthers drawing first blood

Matt Hollinshead,
Piedra Vista's Victor Alba, front and center, attacks from the far left corner of Hope Christian's goalkeeper box during the first half of Saturday's match at PVHS.

FARMINGTON – Carlos Yllescas sees the benefits of striking first on the pitch.

“The team that scores first really has a big advantage. You can control the rhythm of the game,” the Piedra Vista boys soccer coach said. “We are trying to be very, very aggressive. We’re playing faster.”

It’s something Yllescas values greatly, and it’s the catalyst behind the Panthers’ strong start in 2017.

“You put the first one away, then everything starts getting easier for you,” junior striker Max Eisenfeld said. “Once you win the ball, everybody steps up and everybody goes in trying to get the ball behind the defense.”

For the most part, Piedra Vista is drawing first blood in the opening minutes. The Panthers are pushing the ball point-blank and coming in from different angles, trying to knock that first and second goal in quickly. That’s where the larger scoring outputs stem from.

“First touch, everything about it is important. You’ve got to have good movement on and off the ball. If you have good movement off the ball, then it creates open shots and perfect opportunities to put one away in the net,” junior midfielder Victor Alba said.

Whenever PV has success attacking early, it helps them lessen the pressure after the intermission. The Panthers are all about seizing control from the get-go.

“You put in all the goals you can in the first half, you can play a better second half. So really, we focus from the beginning,” Yllescas said.

Piedra Vista's Max Eisenfeld takes a quick shot with his left foot deep into Hope Christian's goalkeeper box during the first half Saturday's match at PVHS.

But to become more complete on the scoring end, PV looks to be more efficient finding the back of the net late in the game rather than rely on burying foes early on.

That’s been PV’s main concern at this point in the season.

“We start the engine, but we can’t seem to keep feeding the gasoline. We start off strong, then something slips and the motor dies,” Alba said.

However, those types of moments have been seldom.

Although players like Eisenfeld, Alba and seniors Dirk Barton and Connor McPheeters have carried most of the load on offense with 31 of the team's 37 goals, Alba said he’d like to see more and more players help the cause – early and late.

PV (7-3) started the campaign fast, but now it looks to finish what it started this next part of the year.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.