Sometimes the easiest way to win a game is to keep an opponent from scoring. That seems to be the approach that Alamosa boys soccer has taken this season and so far, it's been a successful one.
Quite simply, the Mean Moose just don't allow goals. It's a fine balance between the solid play of center backs Trey Crowther and Nephi Rodriguez and keeper Cody Gonzalez's habit of swatting the ball away from the net. In his 500-plus minutes in net all season, Gonzalez has allowed just two shots to slip by him. Opponents have scored just three goals all season.
"Our back line, we're solid back there," coach Cheyenne Sinn said. "They understand that flat back completely. This year, it's a brand new formation with a 4-4-2 and they love it with the rotation of having each other's backs. They know when to step rather than just containing and dropping."
Limiting goals is just half the battle though. Games can't be won without scoring from the front line and the Mean Moose (7-1 overall, 4-0 Class 3A Southwest) have found a great balance in scoring them as well as not allowing them.
"We work well together in unison," forward Aidan McComas said. "This year is really different from last year in our ability to communicate on the field and move the ball in one section of the field rather than going across the entire field."
Junior Isai Lemus leads the team with nine goals while Alex Antonio-Esteban has six and McComas has four. Like the balance between the overall team's offensive and defensive capabilities, the scoring output has also been balanced through the course of the season.
In multiple games this year, the Mean Moose have had four players net goals en route to a win.
They've also faced some challenges at times. They battled to a 1-0 win over 2A No. 1 Crested Butte on March 23. Isaac Higareda scored the game's lone goal and Gonzalez was at his best, turning away all five shots on goal to get the shutout.
It's how he's been playing all year. The lone blemish on Alamosa's record actually came as a result of Gonzalez getting hurt and having to leave the game against Salida.
"I had to pull my center-mid (Antonio-Esteban) and put him in goal," Sinn said. "It threw off the pace of the game for us and we got scored seven minutes later."
Antonio-Esteban played admirably in the loss, making 11 saves. And if anything, the Moose were encouraged with the result of the game considering they had lost a potential all-state keeper.
Salida beat Alamosa 4-0 in the 3A state tournament last year and even those they didn't get the win, the Mean Moose have much more confidence heading into the start of the playoffs next week.
"We want to do better than last season," McComas said. "We want to make it past the first round of the playoffs. We want to go further this year. We would love to make it to the championship. We think we have the ability, we just have to iron out a few things."
And, of course, continue to keep their opponents from putting the ball in the net.