COTTONWOOD -- A new era of Mingus girl's soccer started with a 4-0 win over Bradshaw Mountain in the season opener Tuesday on Bright Field.
Freshman Martina Bueno scored the first goal for the Marauders on a breakaway. Bradshaw defenders couldn't catch up to her, and Bueno finished the job with a shot to the opposite post. It was her only score of the game, but it resembled how Torey Braly scored most of her goals at Mingus -- a very good sign for the talented freshman.
Junior Haley Backus scored with a header off a corner kick in the final seconds of the first half. She added another score off a penalty kick in the second half.
Senior Nataly Escamilla scored the fourth and final goal for Mingus with a rip from beyond the 18-yard box.
An encouraging result for Mingus, but head coach Buddy Rhodes knows his team needs to improve.
"I think we did okay and Bradshaw is better than I've ever seen them, hat's off to their new coach -- he's done a terrific job with them, but we've got a lot of work to do," said Rhodes. "I saw a lot of good play from Haley Backus -- she scored two and nearly scored a third. Great play from the young Martina. Our defense was stellar tonight and posted a shutout led by Ashleigh Makuch. We had freshman Brenna McCallum playing in the center on defense, and I've never had a freshman start there before, but she did quite well tonight. Overall, we're a different kind of team than we were last year, but we saw a lot of promise tonight."
It's evident the play of center midfielder Nataly Escamilla is crucial for Mingus this season. Her leg strength, ball control, field vision, and communication with her teammates makes her a blue chip player -- a player you can build a team around. Definitely a college prospect.
The other senior field players: Alex Pee, Ashleigh Makuch, Dalis Sealey, and Delaney Scanlan all have a good amount of varsity experience.
The best attribute of the Mingus squad right now is athleticism and endurance. Rhodes said the team worked hard in off season conditioning and weight training -- it shows. As the team finds an identity, Rhodes has a team full of capable athletes giving great effort, necessary ingredients for a successful season.
Their next game is Friday away against Arcadia, a powerhouse program with eight returning starters. A good showing for Mingus would go a long way to bolster confidence.
Notes: Senior Shelby Hughes got her first varsity start at keeper. She didn't see much action, but when she did she looked sharp.
Sophomore Kelby Gillies went down in the second half in a lot of pain, but it turned out to just be a cramp. She played tough on the wing all game and nearly scored.The Mingus boys team lost to the Bears in Prescott Valley, 3-0, Tuesday.