We’re finally getting to the point where we’re almost fully healthy and close to having our starting lineup back. It’s so great to have them back, and they were super fired up to play today. – East head coach Rudy Schenk
After being sidelined due to some nagging injuries, the star duo finally returned to action against region foe Bountiful Friday afternoon and definitely made their presence known.
Cazares and Olivera came out fired up and really seemed to get back into the swing of things as they netted two goals apiece, one in each half, to help the Leopards cruise past the Braves 4-1.
“We’re finally getting to the point where we’re almost fully healthy and close to having our starting lineup back. It’s so great to have them back, and they were super fired up to play today. This was the first time we were almost at full strength, so it was huge,” East head coach Rudy Schenk said of their return.
The home team came out with a sense of urgency and took it to the Braves to put them on their heels and establish an early offensive rhythm.
East was completely unselfish and used its tremendous passing skills to penetrate the defense and create some terrific looks at the net in the first 15 minutes.
“I thought we played pretty well to start the game off. It took a little bit to get going and figure things out, but once we did, we starting playing our game and had some great possessions. They’re very unselfish,” Schenk said.
Then, after firing one at a crossbar in the 26th minute, Cazares cleaned up — and finished off — his miss right into the corner of the net to draw first blood.
The Leopards remained on the attack and, just five minutes later in the 31st minute, Olivera took an inbounds pass, lofted it over the heads of the defense from 20 yards out and put it into the upper right-hand pocket to take a 2-0 lead and all the momentum at the break.
“It’s huge for him because he’s (Olivera) been in a little bit of a scoring drought, but that was a super nice laser into the far post. And those kinds of goals really get everyone pumped up, so it was big for us,” said Schenk.
And they were just getting warmed up.
Cazares and Olivera came out in the second half and picked up right where they left off as they both beat the keeper in under a six-minute span to extend their cushion to 4-0 before the Braves even knew what hit them.
“We carried that (momentum) well into the second half, got those two quick goals and kind of finished it off from there. We kept moving the ball and were very aggressive in our attack,” Schenk said.
East completely dominated the second half and executed tremendously on both sides of the ball.
The Leopards' defense, anchored by two first-time starters at center back, was a force all game and made the visitors earn every inch. However, following a questionable hands call on East's defense inside the box, Bountiful buried a penalty kick in the 56th minute to get on the board.
“They made that penalty kick, and I didn’t see the penalty there, but we’ll look at the film and see. But defensively, I thought we did a really nice job overall. I’m really proud of them for shutting them down,” said Schenk.
The home team easily bounced back and finished strong to seal the convincing 4-1 victory. The Leopards have now won five of their last six games, including four straight.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since October 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724