By COREY KIRK

In front of a sideline full of fans, and the occasional dust cloud whipped up by afternoon winds, the Baker boys soccer team couldn’t overcome the McCall-Donnelly Vandals in a defensive struggle, losing 2-1 Saturday, Aug. 28 at the Sports Complex.

Baker fell to 0-2 on the season.

Head coach Victor Benites had two objectives for the Bulldogs as they sought to rebound from a 3-0 loss at Weiser, Idaho, on Aug. 26.

“They were going to have to communicate more, and be able to throw the ball and pass the ball better,” Benites said.

A few minutes into Saturday’s match, a referee called a violation on the Vandals, leading to a penalty kick for senior captain Wyatt Hawkins.

Hawkins netted the shot, and Baker thought it had taken a 1-0 lead.

But a referee whistled Baker for encroachment and waved off the goal.

That’s the sort of costly mistake Baker can’t afford to make, Benites said.

“We have to pay attention,” he said. “I am not blaming anyone but little things like that can cost you a game. You have to focus, and you have to be ready.”

The Vandals scored in the 10th minute to lead 1-0, but 15 minutes later Baker tied the score on freshman Aldo Duran’s goal, the Bulldogs’ first of the season.

“I thought it was a pretty good goal, it was a pass from another freshman which was Alan (Bedolla),” Benites said. “Being a freshman and scoring a goal, that was pretty cool, he was all excited.”

McCall-Donnelly scored again late in the first half to lead 2-1 at intermission.

Benites said he was proud of senior goalkeeper Silas Carter, who had more than 10 saves in the first half alone.

“I can always count on him,” Benites said of Carter. “He’s been playing goalie for three years I do believe, and he’s one of the kids you can play anywhere on the field and he can do good for you.”

During halftime Benites said he exhorted the Bulldogs to be more aggressive on offense.

“We need to take more shots,” he said. “(At) halftime they had 17 shots on goal, we had 5. We needed to have better shots and better passes.”

Baker kept the ball on the Vandals’ side much of the second half, but the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize.

“They did really well, they did what I asked them to do,” Benites said.

He said he urged his players to not dwell on the loss.

“They are slowly improving a bit on the things we work on during practice,” Benites said. “We didn’t know what kind of team they were going to be.”

Baker will play host to the Four Rivers Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 4 p.m.

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