A pair of Ignacio Ruiz goals proved to be the difference as the visiting Holtville Bulldogs picked up their first section victory, 2-0, over the hometown Tallassee Tigers on a frigid night at Hot O’Brien Stadium last Tuesday. Ruiz’s first goal was set up by a corner kick to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 first-half lead. Late in the second half, Ruiz bounced a shot into the goal with 2:25 left in regulation.

“With all the rainouts and nowhere to practice because everything is underwater, I have to be happy with where we are,” Bulldog coach Robert Broom said. “Are we where we normally are at this point in the season? No. We are probably two weeks behind where I’d like for us to be. There are just a few things missing that aren’t allowing us to finish like we should.”

The Tigers, who are winless through three games, appeared to have evened the score late in the first half on a Jacob Ledbetter goal, but the point was waved off due to an infraction.

Despite the loss, Tigers coach Katie Rigsby was pleased with the group’s effort.

“We’ve had a rocky start, so this was probably the best game we’ve played all year,” Rigsby said. “We really are improving. I don’t like to lose. But from a standpoint of where we started versus where we are now, that’s all I can ask is that they get better every day.”

Tuesday’s 2-0 loss was the second outing in which the Tigers were left scoreless. Tallassee rang in the month of March with a 4-0 loss to Prattville Christian and opened the season with a 5-4 area loss to Valley.  The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were shut out by Park Crossing to open the season then dropped a close one to Montevallo before rattling off 10 goals in a shutout victory over Autaugaville.

“(Against Tallassee) we had seven opportunities that we should have easily knocked in, and we came away with two,” Broom said. “And that makes you play a lot harder. But at this point in the season, though, we may need to play a lot harder. That may be what we need.”

Despite giving up the two goals in the loss, Kalvin Levett, keeper for the Tigers, left Holtville attackers frustrated as he thwarted multiple shots before finally giving up the late goal.

“He did an outstanding job and he’s getting better,” Rigsby said.