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It wasn’t the result Preston’s boys soccer team was hoping for, but there’s no question the Indians have turned a corner following three straight frustrating losses.

Preston extended its unbeaten streak to three thanks to a scoreless draw at home against 5A Highland on Monday afternoon. The Indians, who won their previous two matches, lost to the Rams by a 2-0 scoreline earlier this season.

“We had lots of opportunities (to score), but just couldn’t find the back of the net,” PHS head coach Kira Matthews said.

It was Preston’s fourth match in an eight-day stretch, and same for the Preston girls. The Preston boys hosted 3A Sugar-Salem last Saturday and came away with a 3-2 victory. The Indians (5-5-2) also beat the Diggers earlier this season.

Preston jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead, courtesy of a brace by Parker Cromwell. The junior’s first goal was assisted by Brayden Viterna.

To their credit, the Diggers battled back with back-to-back goals in the second half. However, Preston regrouped and got a game-winning tally from Bryan Ricaldi, assisted by JJ Higley, in the 74th minute.

“We came out strong,” Matthews said. “Great first-half passing, moving and lots of energy. Second half we came out weak and let up, but found a rhythm with about 10 minutes left and were able to push and get the third goal to get the win.”

It was a Saturday doubleheader for Preston as the girls dispatched of Sugar-Salem, 4-1, to complete a season series sweep of the Diggers. The Indians found the back of the net three times after halftime.

Isabel Gonzalez scored twice for Preston, which also got goals from Brinley Alder and Samantha Whiteley. Samantha Palmer contributed with a pair of assists for the hosts, who also got as assist from Andie Bell.

“Much better performance (Saturday) than what we’ve had in recent matches,” PHS head coach Brandon Lyon said. “The girls moved the ball really well and we created some great opportunities throughout. We made a couple of changes after the two losses earlier in the week and I think they paid off (Saturday).”

Preston returned to action Monday on the road against a very good Highland side and lost, 5-0. The undefeated Rams (10-0-0) defeated the Indians (4-7-0) by a 4-0 scoreline earlier this month.

Highland has scored four or more goals in nine of its 10 matches this season. The Rams are the only team to beat Mountain Crest so far during the 2021 campaign.

“Good start, but we faded after 20 minutes or so,” Lyon said. “As the game progressed, we stopped winning balls and connecting passes. Highland is a great team and we gave them too many opportunities after giving away easy balls.”

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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