With a 4-0 win over Fair Grove on Saturday, the Aurora Houn' Dawgs captured the title in the Cassville Tournament, their second tournament championship in as many seasons.
Last year, the Dawgs needed three overtimes to claim first place in the Thomas Jefferson Tournament, but this trophy came a little easier for Coach Curtis Bishop's team, as Aurora shut out its opponents in each match.
A 7-0 win over Thomas Jefferson got the Dawgs off to a good start in the competition, with a hat trick from senior Miguel Gallardo, two goals by senior Denny Mayne and one goal each from junior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Ignacio Ortega. Junior goalkeeper Patrick Reyes was credited with five saves and the shutout behind a solid defense that included sophomores Julius Jager, Ryan Cline, Nic London and Sam Salas, junior Jairo Hedrick and senior Gavin McFee.
The Dawgs then faced the host team, coming away with a 4-0 win over Cassville. Gallardo recorded a goal and an assist, while Salas, Briggs and junior Jordani Perez scored a goal each. Reyes earned his second shutout of the year and recorded six saves.
One more shutout on Saturday secured the championship for Aurora, as three second-half goals put the game out of reach for Fair Grove. Perez led the offense with a brace (two goals), while Gallardo and McFee added one goal apiece. Mayne finished with two assists on the game, followed by Briggs with one. Seven saves from Reyes helped preserve the clean sheet for the defense.
"Defensively, our players played aggressive pressure throughout the game and shut down attacks and started counter attacks consistently in the second half," said Bishop. "They are working hard to get better and starting to realize if they play as a team they are tough to play, which allows them great opportunities for success."
The Dawgs found even more success on Monday, as Aurora held on to a late lead over New Covenant Academy for a 3-2 victory. A first-half goal by Mayne gave the Dawgs a 1-0 lead, but NCA scored the next two to lead 2-1 at the half.
But Perez equalized early in the second half, and Gallardo gave the home team the lead again with a penalty kick goal late in the game.
The visitors had one last chance late in the second half, when the referee awarded NCA a penalty kick of its own. But Reyes correctly guessed the shot was going to his left and saved the attempt and the game for the Houn' Dawgs.
The win gave Aurora a 4-1 record on the season, although a 5-2 loss at Monett on Tuesday would drop the Dawgs to 4-2. Aurora's next match is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a home match against College Heights Christian.