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Soccer: Bulls off to hot start – Bridgeport looks to build on last year’s state run

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, January 27, 2018
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The Bridgeport boys soccer team took Wise County by storm last year.

BACK FOR MORE – After guiding the Bridgeport to the state final last season, Eric Aguilar and Juan Amador have helped the Bulls to a strong start to this season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In only their second season, the Bulls captivated students and fans alike, taking them on a wild ride to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) state finals. They ultimately came up short, losing to Kilgore in a shootout to finish as the runner-up.

Now, less than a year later, Bridgeport is back for more. And although the Bulls have rocketed out of the gates to a 7-2 start, they have no plans on living in the past.

“We can’t base anything on last year,” said midfielder Eric Aguilar. “That’s done. We’re never going to have the same opportunity that we had last year. We’re just taking it a game at a time.”

Bridgeport ended last year 20-4-5, winning seven matches in a row before falling in the title game. The Bulls have returned most of their roster in 2018, and the results have spoken for themselves.

Through nine matches, Bridgeport is averaging three goals per game – and it’s not just one player doing the damage. On any given night, the Bulls can have a slew of players find the back of the net. In a 9-0 victory over Faith Oak Cliff, Bridgeport had seven different goal scorers.

“There are some guys getting into the rotation that are contributing and finding ways to score, and that’s exciting to see,” said Bridgeport’s first-year coach CJ Cartwright. “When they get into the mix they make things happen. Having multiple guys that have the ability [to score] certainly helps.”

Cartwright said ball possession has been pivotal for the Bulls early in the season and has led to a handful of scoring chances. With Bridgeport dominating time of possession, opponents have often gotten impatient and made more mistakes.

This has opened the field up for the Bulls’ goal scorers and allowed them to catch teams out and counter-attack.

“The key in every game is possession,” said forward Juan Amador. “[It frustrates] the other team. That’s when they get mad, and once they get frustrated it opens it up for us and creates more plays.”

But even though Bridgeport has scored eight and nine goals in two different matches this year, Amador thinks the Bulls’ offense can be more potent.

“We can score more,” Amador said. “We just, as a team, need to work on getting more goals and not getting scored on.”

Defensively, Bridgeport’s back line and goalkeepers have been stout, allowing one goal per game on average. Cartwright attributes some of the Bulls’ defensive success to conditioning, as most of the team also runs cross country.

In addition to their stamina, Aguilar said communication has also been key to keeping balls out of the net, and while there have been some mental lapses, believes the Bulls have responded.

“[The back line] is doing pretty good,” Aguilar said. “They’re staying strong. We’ve had a few letdowns, but that’s normal. That’s what we learn from. I’m glad it happened early in the year during the tournaments, so we can focus on bettering ourselves.”

As Bridgeport’s season heats up, the goal for the Bulls remains the same – continue to build on last season.

And, hopefully, not have to settle for second place.

“They’re competitive,” Cartwright said. “I think last year raised the expectation for them. They brought that into this year. They expect to win every game.”

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