Williston High School sophomore Pablo Palacios’ family shouted his nickname, “Chino”, as they cheered him on from the bleachers Tuesday, Aug. 18 during the first varsity soccer game of the season at Legends Field.

Palacios scored the second goal in the Coyotes 5-2 loss against the Mandan Braves and also managed a couple shots on goal.

But the second goal came after a slow start for Williston’s offense.

It was not until later in the first half and all throughout the second half when the team started to make moves, and head coach Ryan Stebbins said this was mainly because the team was nervous.

However, during the second half Stebbins said they came out ready and were finally able to light the fire they needed.

One of Williston’s first good chances came just over halfway through the first half, when senior Josh Watson was able to drive the ball down the right sideline. He crossed the ball into the middle of the field, and after a few bounces, Palacios corralled the ball and got a shot on goal.

Junior Shawn Anfinson and sophomore Dante Leguizamon also registered solid shots on goal throughout the game.

The Coyotes’ first goal of the season came less than a minute after the second half started.

Anfinson had the ball at the top of the 18 yard box, to the left of the goal, and he ripped a solid shot on goal. The ball went through Mandan’s keeper’s hands and trickled across the goal line, bringing the Williston crowd to their feet to celebrate the first stepping stone of the young team’s season.

With four-and-a-half minutes left in the game, down 5-1, Anfinson once again found himself to the left of the goal, closer to the sideline this time and inside the 18 yard box. He crossed the ball into the middle of the box, and out of the crowd, Palacios found some space, corralled the ball and scored on his shot.

Palacios has been playing soccer since he was 7 years old and “Chino” is a nickname that has followed him throughout his soccer career. It is a word used to describe someone with curly hair.

He said when he plays he zones out the cheering or talking from his family, the fans and sometimes the coaches and just focuses on where the ball is and where he should be.

“I love soccer,” he said, with the biggest smile. “(I) just pay attention to the ball and focus on the game. I like to see where (the other team) is at and I have to know my position and where the ball will play at.”

Palacios’ goal was the breakthrough Williston had been on the verge of for most of the half, as the Coyotes had more chances in the second half and kept getting closer and closer.

“We’re really young and there’s still lots to work on,” Stebbins said when asked about his team and the future of the season. But he said he is confident that with the leaders on the field taking the underclassmen under their wings, the season will be successful.

Moving forward, he said he and his coaching staff want to focus on building off of the momentum, the energy and the fun the boys had in the second half of Tuesday’s game.

Palacios said overall, the goal for the season is to win a game and he said with more practice and improving the communication between the team on the field, they have more than a chance to win.

“I feel really good right now and after that goal I feel really confident,” he said.

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