Aberdeen’s Miguel Martinez scored a pair of goals and the Bobcats dominated from wire-to-wire in a 4-0 victory over Black Hills in the first round of the 2A District 4 Tournament on Saturday in Aberdeen.
Playing a poised and patient style of game that minimized mistakes, the Bobcats controlled the field and limited the Wolves offensive opportunities.
Aberdeen (6-5 overall) got on the board in the 13th minute of the game when Edwin Quintana took a pass from Kaleb Myers, turned and slotted a shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Martinez buried a header off Tony Hernandez’s corner kick to give Aberdeen a 2-0 advantage.
The game stayed at 2-0 until halftime as Aberdeen missed on its remaining scoring chances in the first half, including a shot that rang of the goal post and a header off a cross that just sailed wide.
Looking to gain a three-goal lead early in the second half, Aberdeen began seeing success with forward through passes and long, downfield lobs to loosen the Wolves’ defense.
The strategy paid off when Martinez took a through pass from Hernandez, beat his defender and snuck the ball past the oncoming Black Hills goalkeeper Andrew Byoune for a 3-0 lead at the 48th minute.
Later in the half, Angel Sanchez scored after taking a through pass from Martinez up the right side and slotting a shot past Byoune inside the far post, giving Aberdeen a 4-0 lead with just under 20 minutes left to play.
Black Hills never really threatened the rest of the way as Aberdeen maintained a stout defense throughout the game, allowing only two scoring chances in the contest.
“Good defense, pretty organized, not too many opportunities for them because of a breakdown on D, which was an improvement from the last game,” Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming said.
Fleming said the strategy on offense was to get his young team — over half the roster are sophomores that didn’t have a season last year — to spread out the opposing defense by utilizing the entire field.
“I think the big thing was instead of playing the ball straight to the middle, we were playing it wide and trying to get the ball crossed in. That’s one habit we have is to send it to the middle every time,” Fleming said. “So I said, ‘Spread them out first, then you’ll have all the spaces to play in-between.’ That worked a lot better. … They did give us a little bit of space… for the most part we had a little more time on the ball and instead of dribbling it a lot, we knocked it around a bunch. That was an improvement that we talked about from the game before was that we just tried to do too much one-on-one in the game before. … It was a great job.”
Aberdeen advances in the tournament to play the Rochester Braves, whom the Bobcats defeated 4-0 on April 9 in Rochester.
Fleming said for his young team to not let the moment overwhelm them, they just need to keep communicating and replicate Saturday night’s performance.
“I think we need to just do the same stuff we’ve been doing and improving all the time. I think we’ve improved on our first touch and we’re not just passing better, but making our runs better in support, so we’re getting to better spots,” he said. “It took a while to get into this and to get them to communicate all the time. They have to be talking like the upper classmen. They can’t be quiet in this game and you can see the way they are communicating that the guys don’t even have to look up to know where people are. So I say keep doing that, play solid defense and we’ll have a good chance.”
Aberdeen will host Rochester tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Stewart Field.