It took just four minutes of the second half for Holtville’s Iggy Ruiz to put away any thought of a comeback from Elmore County on Thursday night in boys soccer action. He added an assist and a goal to his night before the 45th minute to put the Bulldogs ahead by four goals en route to a 5-0 win to complete their season sweep of the Panthers.
“In soccer, things can get so wild at any moment,” Ruiz said. “We just had to relay that message of ‘one more, one more, one more’ and it piled up to five. We got all that we could.”
Holtville (6-0-5, 5-0-1 Class 4A/5A Section 4) dominated possession throughout the match and created several chances, tallying a total of 25 shots during the victory. Ruiz finished with two goals and two assists for the Bulldogs.
Ruiz helped open the scoring in the first half by sliding a pass through the backline to Miles Broom who slotted home from eight yards away to give Holtville a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. Broom passed on the favor 10 minutes from the half, finding Tucker Edwards in the middle of the box for a thunderous volley to put the Bulldogs ahead by two.
“Once we start clicking and the passing moving through, you can start to feel the energy,” Ruiz said. “And the fans really helped us keep that going tonight.”
The trio continued to connect in the second half when Edwards found Broom on the right before Broom picked out Ruiz for a goal in the opening minute. Ruiz added another assist less than three minutes later when he passed to Luc Cyr on the left wing and Cyr scored on a floated ball into the right corner of the net.
“We missed a couple of easy opportunities so we had to work a little bit harder to get those goals,” Holtville coach Robby Broom said. “We tinkered with our angles a little bit and closed in our gap between our midfield and striker. It just opened up.”
Ruiz capped off the scoring with less than 18 minutes on the clock. After a bad giveaway from Elmore County, Edwards played a perfectly weighted through ball and Ruiz finished with a soft shot into the bottom left corner.
“Anytime we come over here to play, Elmore County is going to test us and push us,” Broom said. “I like coming here because we usually play some of our best soccer and that’s what we did tonight. That was probably our best game this year.”
Elmore County (5-1-11, 2-0-4) could not find many ways to get the ball up the field. The Panthers’ best chance came late in the second half but Holtville’s Tucker Jones blocked a shot in front of an open net to keep the clean sheet.
“Losing to Valley on Tuesday kind of took the life out of us,” ECHS coach John Hilbish said. “Our message has been that we want them to care more about their teammates than themselves.”
After defeating the Panthers by three goals in the first meeting, Holtville felt confident it could move closer to its goal of a section championship. However, the Bulldogs cannot afford another loss in section play and they knew the importance of Thursday’s trip to Eclectic.
“We’ve been doing well in the area but we had that slip up against Marbury,” Ruiz said. “Our focus was making sure that didn’t faze us at all. We had to come here and keep doing our business.”
Note: Holtville defeated Marbury 1-0 and lost to Valley 4-3 to finish out its week. The Bulldogs are 6-2 in section play and can still get the one or two seed in the section standings.