Juan Rodriguez

Sophomore goalkeeper Juan Rodriguez preserved the Cowboys’ season-opening shutout Tuesday with this save as defenders, from left, Javier Rios and Victor Marquez admire the effort.

WILLCOX — The Willcox soccer varsity opened defense of its South Region title by rolling past recent two-time champ Desert Christian, 5-0, last Tuesday in both teams’ season openers.

“I learned that we could put a little faith in our defense,” head coach Patrick Macumber said. “We lost a few guys last year, but we found that Victor Marquez, Manuel Zepeda, Francisco Oscar and Javier Rios can team up to handle the pressure.”

Senior strikers Brian Magana and Chuy Hernandez scored early to stake the host Cowboys to a 2-0 halftime lead.

Junior Christian Lara started a scoring string early in the second half that included another goal from Hernandez and a final goal from senior Carlos Lon in a rousing early-season dominating performance.

“Those are some of our more experienced goal scorers, so it’s nice to see them do it already early in the season,” Macumber said.

Willcox has nearly 30 players on the roster this season, while Desert Christian struggled to bring 12 for the first of two showdowns this year (the rematch will take place Oct. 10) between the teams who have shared the last five region titles in the south.

“Numbers-wise, they are having a down year,” Macumber said. “They are a small school, so I can see how they can go up and down.”

The young upstart Bisbee Pumas, who stretched two meetings with Willcox to overtime last year, will come to Cowboys soccer pitch Thursday at 4 p.m. for the next big early-season test.

“Bisbee showed a lot of promise last year and have a year more of experience, so we expect them to be tough. The kids will be motivated because it’s a tough opponent and they’re in front of their home crowd,” Macumber said.

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