"I feel sorry for our guys," Central skipper Jim Graham said. "I'm not discouraged. We gave it everything we've got."
Before the game, Graham said on paper Southwest was the favorite. The Eagles were unbeaten in the Imperial Valley League (3-0) and fielded a veteran squad, while the Spartans boasted a young roster with five freshmen and five sophomores.
"Fortunately we were playing on grass and not on paper," Graham said.
Central gave Southwest a game.
"I think we surprised them a bit," Graham said. "I don't think they expected us to play as well as we did."
While Graham conceded the better team won, he said, "I thought we had the clearer chances to get a score right before they did."
And if the Spartans had scored, Graham added he thought Central might have been able to hold on for the win.
With a couple of bang-bang plays less than a minute apart, Southwest secured the win.
Jorge Renteria scored the first goal after taking a long pass. Slipping behind the defense, he went one-on-one with the Spartan keeper, rifling the ball past him.
Moments later, Luis Montes scored, hammering a hard shot that went through the Central goalie's hands.
Right before those two scores, Central looked like it might be the one to break the stalemate. Francisco Espinoza passed across to Salim Ruiz, who broke away from the defense. He took a hard shot on goal, only to have his shot deflected by keeper Ivan Ochoa.
The ball rebounded in front of the cage, where Central's Raul Cazares quickly got a foot on the ball and screamed it back toward the goal. This time Ochoa smothered the ball.
"He doesn't like to wear gloves," Contreras said of Ochoa. And with the cold, windy weather, the Southwest coach almost opted to start another keeper in goal.
"I'm glad I didn't," he said.
Ochoa made some other outstanding saves. Central also had some solid shots that just missed their mark.
On one, Cazares lofted a corner kick right in front of the net, where Alberto Martinez leaped for a header. His shot sailed just over the crossbar.
On another, Martinez drilled a direct kick that sailed high. It came after a hand ball just 20 yards out.
Southwest also had other scoring chances.
Midway through the second half Renteria got off a hard shot that Spartan keeper Martin Lemus deflected wide.
Renteria had a header that Lemus managed to haul down.
Renteria also teamed up with Montes twice midway through the second half, passing ahead to Montes for shots on goal.
Lemus made another great save on one of Montes' shots while the other sailed high.
Southwest improved to 10-4-3 overall. The Eagles host Brawley Union High at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Central (5-9-4 overall, 2-2-1 IVL) travels to Calexico for a 6:30 p.m. contest Friday.
Calexico 2, Brawley 0
CALEXICO — Eduardo Barron and Rogelio Araujo scored a goal each in Calexico's 2-0 win over Brawley in Imperial Valley League play Tuesday.
Brawley coached praised the play of sweeper Gerardo Contreras.
Calexico (2-1-1 IVL) hosts Central at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Brawley (5-7-3 overall, 2-1 IVL) is at Southwest High for a 6:30 p.m. Friday match.
Imperial 4, Mountain Empire 0
IMPERIAL — Anthony Guardado had a goal and two assists in Imperial High's 4-0 win Tuesday.
Ricardo DePaulo, Victor Silva and Luis Moreno all scored one goal for Imperial.
Imperial (5-3-1 overall, 4-0 Desert Mountain League) hosts Vincent Memorial at 4:30 today in a non-league contest.