Eagle boys hold off Pirates for a 5-4 win

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It's been a long, tough season for the Belen Eagle boys soccer team. That's why Saturday's 5-4 win over Grants was probably gratifying for the Eagles.

After Belen led 2-1 at halftime, the Eagles and Pirates each scored three goals in a wild second half, with Belen finishing on top. The outcome made both teams 2-3 in District 6-4A, with the Eagles improving to 3-12 overall and the Pirates falling to 6-6.

Belen was set to play at Los Lunas late Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time. The Eagles are scheduled face Gallup on the road at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The win over Grants was a rewarding one, not simply because it was only Belen's third win of the season, but also because it was the Eagle's first one-goal win of 2012-13. Belen coach Danny Krow is hoping his young lineup gains confidence from a hard-earned win.

"It was pretty exciting," said Krow.

Chris Lovato scored a pair of first-half goals in the seventh and 17th minutes of the match, with Chance Cannon assisting on the first one. Grants' Ben Sarracino scored the first of his three goals in the 30th minute.

Belen seemed in control of the match when Manuel Parra scored in the 52nd minute off of a Lovato assist to put Belen up 3-1. But three minutes later, Sarracino scored again to make it a one-goal match again.

The other four goals all happened in the last nine minutes. Parra started the late flurry of goals with a score in the 71st minute, giving the Eagles a 4-2 edge.

Grants' Raul Enriquez scored against BHS goalkeeper Michael Vialpando in the 74th minute. About one minute later, Erick Guerrero got a pass from Parra and chipped it over the Pirate goalkeeper for a 5-3 Belen lead.

In a scrap in front of the Belen goal, Sarracino scored again in the 78th minute to make it 5-4.

"There was a cluster in front, and I don't think Michael could see the ball," Krow said.

However, the Pirates wouldn't get any more golden opportunities, and Belen hung on for the win.

Krow again used Lovato, the freshman standout, in a variety of ways, including as a starting center midfielder and as a defender. But he gives a player with Lovato's amount of club soccer experience the freedom to roam the field and then return to his position.

"Chris knows how every position on the field is supposed to be played," said Krow.

Vialpando, the sophomore goalkeeper, is one of several Eagles forced into starting varsity roles when five players recently became academically ineligible. He had six saves Saturday.

After Saturday's Gallup trip, Belen will only have three more matches left on the schedule. The Eagles host Miyamura on Tuesday, Oct. 16; host Valencia on Oct. 20 and travel to Grants on Oct. 23.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.