Team captain Hezekiah Oxford pumping up the Warriors in the huddle before the game.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


So far during the 2021 season, the Socorro Warriors soccer team has been floating around the .500 mark. The team went into the Sandia Prep tournament with more wins than losses at 5-4. Two defeats in two days places them behind the eight ball with a current 5-6 record after losing to the Hatch Valley Bears 2-1 on September 25.

“Our team played really well here,” Assistant Coach Greg Spitz said. “Ultimately we let some goals go through that we should not have allowed. They were good goals by the other team, no question. In this game we responded very well and it never felt like we were playing from behind. Now we have to focus on winning going forward. We have got to go on a run.”

The Warriors were not at full strength going into the final game of the weekend. Multiple players were out due to injury and for other undisclosed reasons. Head Coach Billy Oxford was also not on the sidelines due to a questionable red card given during Friday’s 3-1 loss against the Moriarty Pintos. That card resulted in a one game suspension.

Senior Hezekiah Oxford delivered a rousing speech in the huddle before hitting the field. The main theme throughout the team was “COMMUNICATE!”

That showed with the Warriors getting an early opportunity as 8th grader Jacob Angel nearly converted on a cross inside the box. From there, Hatch’s offense seemingly always had the ball during the first half.

Warriors senior Antonio Tenorio, one of the few Socorro players that matched up height wise to the towering Bears squad, was playing on both sides of the box, denying multiple goal opportunities on the defensive end. His effort was not enough once junior Aksel Vasquez found the net on an easy chip shot for Hatch.

It did not take long before senior Joaquin Olvera scored again for the Bears off a bobbled cross inside the Warriors box. Coach Spitz regrouped with his captain “Hez” on the sidelines during a substitution. Whatever words were exchanged, the team was far more focused going forward. Once again “COMMUNICATE!” as the player hit the field.

Warriors senior Finn Parker made several tough inbounds stops. Senior Scott Bunning was not afraid to call out other teammates on both poor positioning in crosses as well as having to shove away one of his own squad members in order to prevent the kid from being ejected during what could have escalated into something worse.

“That is my mentality every game,” Bunning said. “I want everybody to stay safe and play the game clean. It was not at all a teammate problem on either of those situations. All I want is for us to play safe and well every possession. We are a team.”

The breakthrough goal for Socorro came from the team’s youth as freshman Ivan Giron found the back of the net with a chip over Hatch GK Michael Trujillo early in the second half. That would be the final score as the second period was a slug fest in the midfield. A head-to-head collision, diving saves by both goalies, multiple injuries and captain “Hez” receiving a yellow card summed up this dogfight.

“We just have to lock things down,” Hezekiah Oxford said. “It’s not complicated. We have got to play the way that we are capable of. If we can do that we are capable of making a run towards a championship.”

It will be a tough task for the Warriors en-route to getting back to a winning record. Waiting in the wings are the St. Michael’s Horsemen in a home game on October 1. That will be followed up with a road trip to NMMI on October 5.

A/3A 3/4 District Standings:

  1. New Mexico Military Institue; 7-3-1.
  2. Socorro; 5-6
  3. Hatch Valley; 6-6-1