Camp Verde High boys soccer is off to an almost perfect start.
The young Cowboys (4-1) started the season by winning their first four matches, outscoring opponents 29-1.
They cruised to the championship game of the Chino Cup, where they fell to the hosts and four-time defending state champions Chino Valley 2-1.
“I think it went well,” said Camp Verde head coach David Miller about the Chino Cup. “We won three out of four games and we came up against Chino Valley, four time defending state champions. It was a battle, the first half we won the battle.”
Junior Brandon Cruz scored for the Cowboys but the Cougars found a way to score two goals and then hold on.
Senior goalkeeper Preston Maynard had 12 saves.
“It took us a while to get our head back in the game,” Miller said. “We challenged at the end with lots of pressure. We lost 20 minutes of the game and won 60 minutes of the game. Unfortunately in that 20 minutes they scored two goals.”
Sophomore Beto Ruiz said the Cowboys have done well this season, they just need to pass the ball quicker.
“It went good the first half,” Ruiz said about the Chino Cup championship. “The second half we let ourselves down once they scored the first goal.”
Camp Verde opened the tournament with a 7-0 win over Grand Canyon. Junior Joseph Jones had a hat trick and Cruz, senior Chase Decker, senior Nate Schultz and freshman Marlon Menjivar also scored.
Next the Cowboys beat The Gregory School 8-0. Jones had a brace and Ruiz, senior Nick Daniels, freshman Luis Venegas, Schultz, Menjivar and freshman Jose Santana also scored.
Miller said he didn’t think the young Cowboys had a problem playing a close game against Chino Valley after all the blowouts.
“I really don’t think so because the boys understand who Chino Valley is,” Miller said. “They understand the quality of the other teams. There’s a marked difference between the Chino program and some of the other programs.”
In the third game of the Chino Cup, the Cowboys defeated Page 6-0. Jones had another brace and Cruz, senior Wesley Loveall, sophomore Kelton O’Grady and sophomore Manuel Interiano also scored.
In the season opener against Payson, the Cowboys won 8-1. Jones, Cruz, Loveall, O’Grady, Interiano, Decker, Schultz and Venegas scored.
The next match for the Cowboys was a return trip to Chino Valley for the regular season game over there. The game was on Thursday but the result was not available at press time.
Miller thought it was “terrible” to have to go back to Chino Valley right away this early in the season.
“That’s the way the schedule works out this year,” Miller said. “It is what it is. We’ll go back and play there and hopefully perform differently.”
The Cowboys success against Chino Valley in the cup championship could be a double edge sword.
Miller said it can help the young Cowboys’ confidence but also help the Cougars to realize how good Camp Verde is.
The Cowboys’ next home game is Sept. 23 against Page.