It would have been easy to blame the circumstances, the inexperienced roster or the powerful wind, but Jerry McGowen didn’t do any of that.

His team was simply “out-muscled and out-hustled,” he said.

McGowen and the Clarkston Bantams boys’ soccer team played their first game since May 2019 on a windy Tuesday at Adams Field, falling 11-3 to East Valley in a Class 2A Greater Spokane League affair. The pandemic-delayed start to the schedule afforded the Bantams just five preseason practices to get their young group game-ready, and it showed, at times, on the pitch.

“We were out-physicaled,” McGowen said. “We were out-hustled and we were getting pushed around and that made a lot of the difference.”

The last time Clarkston took the field, it was in a State play-in game against Ellensburg. But the Bantams lost five seniors from that team and missed out on another strong senior class last season, which was canceled because of COVID-19.

So this year’s Bantams (0-1) didn’t have the varsity minutes necessary to prepare for the physicality and energy displayed by East Valley (1-0), of Spokane.

Eight players netted a goal for the Knights, including Bryson Harms and Isidro Vargas, who had two apiece. Vargas’ 20-yard rip gave East Valley a 3-2 lead midway through the first half and sparked a streak of five consecutive goals that pushed the Knights ahead 7-2. Clarkston got within 7-3, briefly, with a 58th-minute penalty kick, but the Knights peeled off the game’s final four goals after that to wrap up the win.

But the teams traded goals early, combining to find the net four times in the game’s first 16 minutes. Juan Sabogal tapped in a cross for the Bantams’ first goal of the day, tying the score at 1 in the eighth. Then an own goal tied it again at 2 in the 16th.

“We were looking for the early passes to our attacking players,” McGowen said of Clarkston’s early offense. “We’ve got two high-level players in our attack, Seth Brown and Juan Sabogal are very, very high-level players. ... We were hitting them early and then they stopped getting the service.”

Sabogal’s penalty kick in the 58th minute was Clarkston’s final score of the game.

The Bantams continue their season Thursday at West Valley. In the interim, McGowen said, Clarkston can work on its toughness.

“Tomorrow is going to be a lot of going over corner and dead ball situations and really going over the importance of beating your man and not getting out-hustled and (giving) a shoulder back,” McGowen said. “A lot of times, we weren’t fighting back, and we can do that.”

East Valley 5 6—11

Clarkston 2 1—3

East Valley — Own goal, 7th.

Clarkston — Juan Sabogal, 8th.

East Valley — Bryson Harms, 9th.

Clarkston — Own goal, 16th.

East Valley — Isidro Vargas, 20th.

East Valley — Trevin Larsen, 27th.

East Valley — Ryan Conrath, 34th.

East Valley — Devin Pierce, 51st.

East Valley — Kaiden Stern, 54th.

Clarkston — Sabogal, 58th (PK).

East Valley — Timothy Stark, 60th.

East Valley — Connor Bly, 72nd.

East Valley — Vargas, 75th.

East Valley — Harms, 78th.

Guernsey may be contacted at mguernsey@lmtribune.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey,