Winning doesn’t always have to be pretty.
And the 1-0 win for Centennial High School boys soccer over Pueblo West on Friday at Cyclone Stadium was far from being the Mona Lisa.
But a chip-shot, first half goal from junior Orlando Trujillo and a strong second half was enough to give the No. 5 ranked Bulldogs the victory and open their season on the right step.
“The first half wasn’t really how we wanted to play,” Centennial coach Jeff Sterling said. “We like to keep the ball on the ground and we didn’t do that until the second half.
“Second half, we should have scored a few goals. Luckily one stood up, but we could have made it a lot easier on ourselves, but I was really happy with most of the second half.”
The lone goal came in the sixth minute of the match when Francisco Chavez hit Trujillo streaking down the left sideline.
Pueblo West’s goalie was the lone man to beat as he came out to try and stop Trujillo in his tracks as he gained control of the ball in the top left corner of the box.
Instead, Trujillo hit the brakes, launched the ball seemingly straight up into the air, and watched as the ball floated toward the right side of the goal and in from about 20 yards out.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make it and I just took a touch, hit over him and I saw it go towards the goal,” Trujillo said. “I don’t think (I’ve had a goal go that high), but I’ll take it.”
Outside of the goal, Centennial didn’t control the ball much in the first half as Pueblo West was able to get off more shots.
A halftime speech and some adjustments made the difference for the Bulldogs in the second half as they peppered the Cyclones with seven shots on goal.
“The coaches’ talk definitely got to us and they said we were a little sloppy and we fixed it,” Trujillo said. “It definitely wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my teammates. They worked hard on and off the ball, we worked hard for the win.”
None of the shots fell for Centennial, but more importantly for the Bulldogs, none found the net from Pueblo West despite the Cyclones' myriad of chances in the final 20 minutes.
Staying calm and collected on defense during those situations was expected from the veterans on Centennial’s squad, but getting the right chemistry with the new faces on varsity was the ultimate goal of the match in Sterling’s eyes.
“They’ve mixed really well,” Sterling said on the veterans and youngsters. “They played a lot over the summer together. On the field, you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell too much which ones are really young.”
Centennial entered the season tabbed as the No. 5 team in Class 4A by the CHSAAnow.com media/coach’s poll.
Sterling believes that selection is a nod of respect for what the Bulldogs accomplished last year and also recognition of their potential this season.
And Sterling knows that with respect, comes every team’s best, and he and his squad are ready to get everyone’s best effort once more in 2019.
“I’m sure we’re a target, I know everybody is going to give us their best game,” Sterling said. “I think we have potential to be a really good team, we’re a different team from last year for sure, but I like where we’re at right now.”
Chieftain sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.