Christian Lara

Junior midfielder Christian Lara handled the ball deftly against Ash Fork Saturday as Willcox picked up a win and a tie at the Old Pueblo Invitational in Tucson.

WILLCOX — The sixth-ranked Willcox Cowboys soccer varsity can reach a crucial point of their regular season if they get past Desert Christian (DC) in a region showdown Thursday at Cowboy soccer field.

Willcox manhandled DC in a freedom game season opener, 5-0, on Sept. 10.

“We don’t really rely too much on the score we put up against them at the beginning of the year,” head coach Patrick Macumber said. A win in the re-match would put the Cowboys in the driver’s seat with pesky Patagonia and winless Academy of Tucson remaining on the schedule.

Desert Christian has only put up a 1-3 regular season record since the loss to Willcox, but they did go 2-2 in their weekend Old Pueblo Invitational tournament on Friday and Saturday. Willcox went just 1-2-1 against similar competition.

“From the tournament, we got a scouting report on all of our kids who don’t get a lot of playing time,” Macumber said. “They all got to get in the games and get a little experience and we got to see what they could do in a real game situation.”

Macumber was impressed by the improvement of freshmen Johan Rodriguez and Alexis Hernandez.

They were bested by No. 3 Bisbee, 3-0, on Friday afternoon, and put up a strong 0-0 battle for the first 20 minutes against No. 1 Blue Ridge before eventually falling, 6-0, on Friday night. The Cowboys bounced back for an early morning 3-0 victory over No. 14 Ash Fork on Saturday, as Ulesses Lara, Chuy Hernandez and Jesse Rodarte each scored. Willcox ended the tournament with a 2-2 tie versus No. 11 St. John’s as Christian Lara scored twice in the final 10 minutes.

Desert Christian defeated St Johns, 3-2, and No. 17 Holbrook, 3-1, while tying Ash Fork, 0-0.

“It’s going to be a big game (Thursday against DC). We’re in the lead in the conference and we would like to keep it,” the coach said.

The Cowboys have been getting strong regular season scoring performances from Christian Lara, who scored twice in a 3-1 win over Benson, and Chuy Hernandez, who added a goal versus Benson and scored four times in a 5-3 win at Patagonia. Ulesses Lara, a sophomore, also scored against Patagonia and had the lone goal in a 3-1 loss versus Bisbee.

“All the wins are important as far as our power ranking is concerned,” Macumber said. “Bisbee is not in our conference. We do not like losing to anybody, but that one doesn’t hurt as bad as an in-conference game would.”

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