The Pasco boys didn't have much to show for their first 35 minutes of play during their CBBN 3A opener Saturday.
A gusty wind and a gutty Kamiakin team were doing everything possible to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
Then a freshman found a way.
Pasco forward Jose Rodriguez found some space atop the 18-yard box and fired a shot off the fingertips of Braves goalkeeper Christian Tinajero and into the right corner of the Braves' goal in the 36th minute, sparking a 3-0 victory at Edgar Brown Stadium.
"It was a tremendous strike from distance," said Bulldogs coach Matt Potter of Rodriguez' right-footed blast. "He's started every game so far. He's a very hard-working, confident young man."
The goal sent Pasco into the locker room up 1-0. That's when the Bulldogs really went to work.
"Kamiakin did a good job on their back line. They weren't easy to break down," Potter said.
Instead of using pure speed, Pasco used its ball-control skills to attack Kamiakin's offsides trap in the second half. Bryan Reeves sprinted down the right hash and ran onto a beautifully-placed pass from Jovan Rojas in the 66th minute and beat Riley Shulman, the Braves' second-half goalkeeper, with a shot to the left post for a 2-0 lead.
"We told everybody to start pressing and stop being lazy," said Rojas, who had two assists on the day. "In the second half, we possessed the ball really well."
What was once a close game quickly appeared to be moving out of reach for a young Kamiakin team.
"They were just doing flicks all the time," said Mario Guizar, a senior midfielder for Kamiakin. "We have a great team, but on every score, we let each other down. We always put our heads down.
"We have to learn to keep our heads up."
The Bulldogs put the game away in the 73rd minute as Eduardo Cruz scored off a pass from Rojas and a quick redirect from Isaac Sappington.
It was a disappointing finish for Kamiakin after a strong start that almost netted not just one, but two goals.
"It would have been nice having our second half match our first half," said Braves coach Jeff Bennett, a former Kamiakin star himself. "I think we had some communication breakdowns. We have to figure out how to work together. It comes down to chemistry."
Jose Ramos and Luis Gonzalez made three saves apiece in the Pasco goal for the combined shutout.
"I was impressed with our ability to have a tough first half, make some changes and then come out better in the second half," Potter said. "Being 1-0 in league is always great."
Scoring--1, P, Jose Rodriguez, 36:00; 2, P, Bryan Reyes (Jovan Rojas), 66:00; 3, P, Eduardo Cruz (Isaac Sappington, Rojas), 73:00. Shots--K 7, P 14. Saves--K, Chrisian Tinajero 1, Riley Shulman (40:00) 1. P, Jose Ramos 3, Luis Gonzalez 3.