Baker’s boys soccer team played even with the unbeaten La Grande Tigers on Friday, March 12 for almost the entire first half.

Then came the penalty kick.

La Grande was awarded that kick with about seven minutes left in the first half of a scoreless match.

The Tigers converted the kick into the match’s first goal, and that gave La Grande momentum that led to a 3-0 lead at halftime and, eventually, a 6-0 win.

Baker coach Victor Benites said he was impressed with how Baker (0-3) was playing against La Grande (2-0-1).

“We played really good for like 25 minutes into the first half, and then at the end they called a PK (penalty kick) against us, everything went down after that,” Benites said.

In the second half, a few Baker defensive miscues led to La Grande doubling its score.

“We had a couple of mistakes there and they’re close to the box, they took shots on goal, and they scored,” Benites said.

Despite the result, Benites was impressed by the efforts of junior goalkeeper Silas Carter, who turned back about 14 La Grande shots.

“He had some really crazy saves in the first half and actually the second half too,” Benites said. “He had 10 to 14 saves the whole game which is really good.”

After watching a film of Friday’s match, Benites said he identified some fundamentals, such as ball control, that the Bulldogs need to work on.

“We gotta focus on getting ball control,” he said. “We got to work on that and pass the ball more and to make the good passes. It’s always the first touch, and the ball bounces off your knee or whatever, you can’t control it so we got to work on that.”

After starting its abbreviated season with four consecutive road matches — the last was today at Four Rivers, Idaho — Baker returns to the Baker Sports Complex for its final matches.

The first is set for Thursday, March 18 against Ontario at 4 p.m. The Tigers blanked Baker 4-0 on March 2.

Benites is excited to see the boost of confidence his team will have playing on their own field.

“Any time you play at home, you play better and really harder as a team, I think it’s because they know the field and everything,” Benites said.

With a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores, Benites is also optimistic about the Bulldogs showing improvement as the season progresses.

“We have a lot of things that we have to work on, but I am pretty sure we will get better,” Benites said.

After Thursday’s match, Baker will play host to Nyssa on Saturday, March 20 at 2 p.m.

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