Six non-conference wins no longer mattered to the Othello Huskie soccer team. With nine CWAC soccer games over the next four weeks, the regular season is officially underway. Prior to their conference opener Saturday against Ephrata, head coach Bernie Garza told his team they are 0-0 and this is when it all starts. "Now all the games count toward league standings," he said. "And we certainly took care of business against Ephrata." Playing without defender and team captain Miguel Gonzalez, who is still nursing a hamstring injury, the Huskies matched tough defense with opportunistic scoring in a 2-0 win over the Tigers. The first 35 minutes remained scoreless until Othello's Hugo Martinez put his eighth goal of the season on a direct kick into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Garza said he blazed a shot, curling it around the wall, into the upper right corner. "Edwin Alvarez and Jacob Quiroz stepped over the ball, faking the Ephrata wall to move slightly," he said. "Hugo then slammed a rocket of a goal." Over the last 40 minutes of the game, Othello hung to a 1-0 lead until the 80th minute, when Khristian Herrera scored on an Ivan Zuniga assist, sealing the 2-0 win. The Huskies outshot Ephrata 18 to 11 but managed only two goals. "We need to work on taking more accurate shots and not allowing other teams to shoot as much as Ephrata did," Garza said. "Good teams will score with that many shots taken." Seniors Angel Rangel and Diego Suarez combined for the shutout, the team's third of the year. Rangel had one save in the first half. Suarez made six saves in the second half. "We have been really working on our defense to not allow any goals scored ... so far so good," Garza said. He said his team dominated play in the midfield, led by senior co-captain Jason Rodriguez and junior co-captain Quiroz. "Those two have been playing with each other for a couple years and are starting to get into a rhythm," he said. "They are the reason our season has been successful so far." Garza said their goal is to be in the top two teams in the league and be a good position to host the district playoff games. "And hopefully, the state playoffs," he said. "We just need to stay healthy and keep doing what we do best - score goals and defend like crazy."
Othello improves to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in the league The Huskies traveled to East Valley Tuesday, but game results were not available at time of press. They host Ellensburg, Thursday, April 17, at 6 p.m., travel to Prosser Saturday, April 19, then host West Valley-Yakima Tuesday, April 22. The game begins at 6 p.m. Garza said the next couple of weeks will be a good test of his team's mental and physical toughness "We need to stay focused on our goals and be mentally ready for each team as they come to take down the top team in the league," he said. With the Ephrata win, the Huskies moved up from ninth in the state rankings to fifth. "Top five in the state, that's a nice recognition," Garza said. "Hopefully, at the end of the season, we can still be there or higher." Grandview, West Valley, Selah and Toppenish are all 1-0 in league play.