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Wolverines break down Bloomfield, 3-1

BHS hustles into ’23 with two road wins
Bayfield's Asher Madonna, right, wins a header over a Bloomfield player during interstate action on Monday at Bobcat Field. (Joel priest/Special to the Herald)

SAN JUAN COUNTY, N. M. – Though Bloomfield, New Mexico’s stoppage-time goal on Monday was something none of the visiting Bayfield Wolverines wanted to see going into halftime, as it halved their two-goal lead, it may have given senior Shae Railsback an idea.

Having already put a 34th-minute free kick – somehow deflected away by the Bobcat goalkeeper – on frame from 40 yards out, then unable to prevent Bloomfield’s long-range shot from bouncing over drawn-out goalie Lane Hunter and into the net, Railsback would seize his opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting prey and exact payback.

Luckily the ’Cats hooked a low free kick in the 43rd minute around a four-man Wolverine wall and just wide of Hunter’s near post. Railsback then helped stop another potential Bloomfield rush in the 58th and took possession 10 yards short of midfield.

Seeing that Bloomfield’s keeper was far off his line and almost outside the 18-yard box, Railsback right-footed a blast that caught practically everyone off-guard, as it flew some 50 yards in the air then took a mighty hop at full speed – aided by a slight tailwind – over the goalie and into the net for a fiendish 70-yard finish.

“That was a big one,” he said afterward with a grin. “After we got a couple goals I think we all felt a lot more confident.”

Bayfield's Lance Mitchell, left, clashes with a Bloomfield player for possession during interstate play Monday at Bobcat Field. (Joel priest/Special to the Herald)

“Turf bounces way more than any grass we play on, so we were kind of expecting that,” said senior Lance Mitchell. “We were working on long balls, making sure we knew how to anticipate …. Guess we didn’t work quite enough. Nor did they.”

“I think it just took us a while to get warmed up, get the hang of it,” Railsback said, acknowledging neither team managed a shot during the opening 14 minutes. “At the start, like, we were just playing sloppy; I think we were tired. We’d had a game Thursday, but we didn’t practice Friday – we watched film on our game against Alamosa – and then through the weekend, nothing. And then we come into a (Monday) game right after school … and we weren’t on our toes.”

Having begun the 2023 season with a 1-0 road win Thursday over 3A Southwestern League rival Alamosa, Bayfield improved to 2-0 overall with a 3-1 triumph at Bobcat Field.

“It took us a while to get going,” Mitchell agreed. “But once we did I feel like our combos were pretty good, and we were all supporting each other. But I think our communication could have been a lot better.”

After senior Asher Madonna was fouled moving a Wolverine attack forward, Mitchell (who’d assisted on Madonna’s goal at AHS) put the guests on the scoreboard first with a 26-yard free kick in the 20th minute. Bayfield nearly doubled up in the 34th when sophomore Ayden Casillas ripped a follow-up of Railsback’s first threatening free kick just over Bloomfield’s crossbar.

Sensing the Bobcats were about to break, however, the Wolverines kept the pressure up and in short order were rewarded when sophomore Wyatt Larson took a Madonna pass and zinged a 35th-minute goal through the keeper’s gloves.

Bloomfield dipped to 2-3 overall (0-0 NMAA Dist. 1-4A) with the loss.

Up next, Bayfield will visit Aztec with 6 p.m. kickoff on Thursday Blanked 2-0 by Bloomfield earlier this season at their own two-day Tiger Shootout, Aztec will go in standing 1-2 (0-0 Dist. 1-4A).

“After seeing our performance …. If we play like that against tougher teams they’re totally going to take advantage of it,” Railsback said, “so the coaches are definitely going to prepare us.”

“We’ve played Aztec in the past – same with Bloomfield – so we kind of somewhat know what to expect,” Mitchell said. “But we’ll just focus on what we’ve been doing, make sure we’ve got all of our tactics ready to go.”

Bayfield players, from left, Zach Hufnagel, Cade Crotty, Tauer Crotty and Julian Polanco leap to defend a Bloomfield free kick early in the second half Monday at Bobcat Field. (Joel priest/Special to the Herald)