The soccer program at Patagonia Union High School is on the rise.
For one thing, participation is up. The roster currently features 29 players, more than double the 13 from last year.
And according to second-year coach Ryan Egan, the Lobos are getting better on the field as well.
“Overall, it’s still been a massive improvement because even the teams we’ve been losing to, such as Bisbee or Willcox, we’re still scoring a lot more than we scored last year, and we’re preventing more goals than we were letting in last year,” he said following a 5-1 win over Academy of Tucson at home on Wednesday.
PUHS has been working to rebuild its soccer program since it brought the sport back in 2017 to replace football.
Last winter, the middle school fielded a soccer team, which spurred interest among the seventh- and eighth-graders and created a feeder program for the high school. Egan said five or six players from the inaugural middle school team are now on the varsity.
He also credited assistant coach Rob Broadfoot, both for coaching the middle school team and for organizing pickup soccer games under the lights during the summer.
“We’ve done a few things to try and develop more of a culture around soccer in Patagonia, and it seems like there’s more interest,” Egan said.
As for leaders among the players, the coach cited twin brothers Sergio and Ivan Carranza of Nogales, as well as brothers Julian and Sebastian Vasquez. And he noted several three-year players, including Lalo Aguilar, Kurt Whitcoe, Asa Sedam, Sean Fleder and Nicholas Botz.
“They have three years under their belts now and it really shows, having that level of experience that they bring to the team,” he said.
The Lobos fell behind in Wednesday’s game against Academy of Tucson when the visiting Lynx scored in the sixth minute of play.
Patagonia’s Chesed Chap appeared to tie the game a few minutes later with a goal of her own, but it was called back due to an offsides penalty.
Santiny Aguilar, assisted by Isaias Gonzalez, finally tied the score at the 25-minute mark when he put in a rebound of his own shot.
Carolina Quiroz got off a good shot for the Lobos just as time expired in the first half, but it was just wide of the net, and the score was 1-1 at the break.
The second half was all Patagonia, beginning at six minutes when Ivan Carranza spun around his defender and blasted the ball into the net, pinging the goalpost in the process. Dylan Jacob got the assist.
Lalo Aguilar followed with a goal from the right side four minutes later, assisted by Whitcoe, and Whitcoe scored from the left at 17 minutes, assisted by Julian Vasquez.
The Lobos capped off the scoring when Carolina Quiroz, assisted by Diego Lopez and Santiny Aguilar, beat the Lynx goalie on the right side of the net at the 35-minute mark.
The win raised Patagonia’s regular-season record to 2-3 heading into the Old Pueblo Soccer Classic on Friday and Saturday in Tucson. They play four consecutive away games after that, then wrap up the regular season at home against Desert Christian at 4 p.m. on Oct. 25.