Columbus High boys soccer has seen this movie before. If it weren't for missed chances, the Discoverers may not have many chances at all.
But in breaking a six-game losing skid earlier in the week while sending seven shots through the goal, CHS appeared to be on the brink of a breakout. The offense wasn't there like it was a few days earlier, but this time Columbus found a way to make one goal stand up in a 1-0 victory over North Platte on Friday at home.
A failure to capitalize on scoring chances has cost Columbus at least twice this season for sure and limited the Discoverers' hopes in nearly every other loss.
A big win followed by a close one means the first back-to-back wins of the season and renewed confidence that no matter what the situation calls for, perhaps CHS has begun to find the answers.
"I thought our speed of play was much faster, and our connecting passes was real good," coach John Arlt said. "There were a lot of good things, but ultimately you've still got to put the ball in the net."
Lately, that hasn't been a problem for junior Alex Ortiz. Ortiz scored four times in the 7-1 win over Lincoln North Star on April 13 then had the lone goal on Friday.
CHS had 24 shots to three by North Platte, according to estimations by Arlt, but didn't have the same scoring touch as a few days earlier.
Ortiz scored in the 61st minute - just about five minutes after backup goalkeeper Jorge Herrera made a save on a penalty kick. Regular starter David Bennett was beaten up from injuries and on the sideline. Herrera's save didn't require a spectacular effort, but it was crucial for a Columbus team that had been carrying the better of the play between the two sides.
"He made the save, thank goodness; otherwise, we would have been behind again after totally dominating again," Arlt said. "We had more chances, it was just one of those games again. Hopefully, we don't continue to do that and end up paying the price."
Ortiz is almost wholly new to varsity minutes after playing backup to Ivan Lopez as a freshman. Though he's had to wait his turn, and any comparisons are premature, Ortiz is proving to have similar potential.
"He's on a roll right now," Arlt said. "There was little to no playing time for him two years ago. At the state tournament, he didn't get to play at all. His skillset for this team is definitely his speed. He poses problems for opponents. He's a lefty, which is unusual, too, but it's his speed and his cutting ability. If you talked to him he'd tell you he didn't play very well because he had eight to 10 shots. But putting that kind of pressure on creates problems for the other team."
Columbus is 3-7 with the win and travels to Hastings on Tuesday. The Discoverers' final four opponents have a combined record of 11-25. CHS can't look too far ahead, but after a 1-7 start and six losses in a row for a program that has never tasted a losing season, the chances to keep that tradition alive are within reach.
"We've got this thing called a winning streak now," Arlt joked. "We'll see if we can't build on that."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.