SANTA ANA PUEBLO — The boys 4A soccer bracket was broken open on Wednesday morning courtesy of No. 9 Los Lunas. The Tigers (14-7) capitalized on two first-half errors in front of the St. Pius net and shocked the top-seeded Sartans (16-3) 2-1 in quarterfinal play at the soccer complex.
Los Lunas played a high defensive line, baiting St. Pius to launch long balls over the top and betting its defense could thwart the danger.
“We’ve been working a lot on defense,” Los Lunas coach Eric Chavez said. “Playing directly over the top, that’s scary stuff. It could be very helpful and it could be detrimental as well. But if we step we could recover.”
That strategy appeared faulty early after St. Pius sophomore Marcus Garcia slipped behind the Tigers defense to open the scoring at the fourth minute. But Los Lunas answered right back when senior Candelario Ruiz’ speculative long-distance shot was spilled by Sartan senior goalie Zack Kolkmeyer into his own net.
In the 24th minute Kolkmeyer rushed off his line and committed a hand ball just outside the right edge of its penalty area. Sophomore Johnny Resendiz curled the resultant free kick into the top corner to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“That was a good game. I trust this team, it’s about time we get what we deserve,” Resendiz said. “We can win if we keep passion and believe in ourselves.”
The Sartans had trouble sustaining pressure getting caught numerous times by the organized Los Lunas offside trap. St. Pius generated plenty of threatening openings but scuffed the final shot into harmless saves or couldn’t keep shots on frame.
“St. Pius is well coached. They’re a great team,” Chavez said. “We stayed in the same formation all game; we knew they’d have trouble.”
Los Lunas advances to play No. 5 seed Los Alamos (15-6-1) in one semifinal. The Hilltoppers muddled through a stingy No. 4 seed Chaparral to win 1-0. It was a grinding match for both teams with precious few looks at goal. The tight defensive battle was separated by a scramble in front of goal.
Dakota Duran rose first to a deflected cross from the right win and his header trickled across the line before the Lobos could keep it out. Chaparral thought it had equalized in the second half but the goal was ruled out for offside.
“It was hard to play they play negative defense with all the midfields dropping,” Duran said. “It wasn’t as smooth as we normally play. (In the semifinals) we’ll have to have sharper touches.”
Los Alamos has won seven of its last eight with the only lost in overtime. The shutout was its fourth straight clean sheet.
At the bottom of the draw, the higher seeds held serve.
The second-seeded Albuquerque Academy (16-4-1) continued its purple patch, with five players scoring one goal each and strolling to a comfortable 9-0 win over No. 10 Aztec (11-8-2).
“We knew we had strength from everywhere,” Academy coach Laney Kolek said. “(That) makes it unpredictable. We can score from anywhere.”
The Chargers have won 11 straight games outscoring opponents 57-3 in that stretch. But despite St. Pius’ loss, Kolek was not trophy gazing just yet. Academy is looking for its third title in four years.
“Any team can lose at this level,” Kolek said. “Soccer can be a wacky sport. It can be a cruel sport that way.”
Academy will face Santa Teresa (16-3-2) in the semifinals after the No. 3-seed struck late against No. 6 seed Taos (15-3-1) through junior super-sub Francisco Zubia. His breakthrough in a 1-0 win came after some wasteful finishing in front of goal from the Desert Warriors. Zubia split the Taos centerbacks and thumped home the winner.
“It’s hard to score, the mentality to score the goal, we had plenty of chances,” Zubia said.
Sophomore Milo Collignon kept his Tigers in the match with some confident goalkeeping, handling crosses and shots cleanly while being smart off his line.
“He had a good game. It’s kind of a keeper tournament right now,” Santa Teresa coach Luis Villalobos said.
The Desert Warriors posted their eighth straight shutout and did well handling numerous Taos set pieces deliveries into their own penalty area.
“It was a tough week preparing,” senior Bryan Vargas said. “We don’t have the height of other teams. We’re all pretty short Mexicans.”
— Noah Seligman
No. 2 Albuquerque Academy 9,
No. 10 Aztec 0
Aztec 0 0—0
ABQ Academy 5 4—9
Scoring: 8th, Neven Zapatka (Gabe Saiz); 15th, Saiz (Kenny Levandoski); 21st, Lucas Jepsen (Saiz); 23rd, Mateo Centenera (Trevor Dean); 37th, Tai Durell (Rowe Wilson-Scott); 46th, Centenera (Jackson Taylor); 55th, Aaron Hill (unassisted); 61st, Centenera (Zapatka); 78th, Chance Harvey (PK). Shots: A 2; AA 32. Corner kicks: A 0; AA 7. Saves: A, Ethan Magee, 23; AA, Yannick Schlenzig, 2. Rec.: AA, 16-4-1.
(Click here for the Class 4A boys bracket.)
CLASS 5A BOYS
SANTA ANA PUEBLO — There were as many overtime games Wednesday (three) in the Class 5A boys state soccer quarterfinals as there were lower seeds who advanced into the next round.
While the top seed, Cleveland, survived — barely — the teams seeded 2, 3 and 4 were ousted at the complex on the Santa Ana Pueblo.
La Cueva fell to Mayfield while defending state champion Albuquerque High was beaten in OT by Clovis. Hobbs, slotted just behind Cleveland, was taken out on a penalty kick in OT by Volcano Vista.
Today’s 3 p.m. semifinals are Volcano Vista-Mayfield and Cleveland-Clovis.
No. 1 CLEVELAND 2, No. 9 ATRISCO HERITAGE 1 (2 OT): The Jaguars (13-7) were only a couple of minutes from the upset until junior forward Gabriel Legendre earned the equalizer for the Storm (18-3) in the 78th minute.
And the teams were two minutes from PKs when Jairo Barreras authored an overlapping run from the left, took a pass from Kevin Vidana, who fed from the middle, and pounded home the game-winner from 15 yards out, low and just inside the far post.
“I was heartbroken (when Atrisco took the lead),” said Barreras, a senior forward. “I thought that was it (for us). But we had to push through it and show that we had the heart. It’s an amazing feeling come from down one to win 2-1.”
Atrisco Heritage hadn’t been competitive against Cleveland in either district game they played against each other, losing 5-0 and 4-1. The Storm, however, was forced to bring extra personnel forward at the end of regulation, and a 3-4-3 formation helped Cleveland get the pressure needed to score the tying goal.
“To Atrisco’s credit, they played with a lot of heart and composure,” Storm coach Shaun Gill said. “They attacked us a little differently and a lot more effectively.”
He added: “It was a rollercoaster. We went from being heartbroken to being elated when we tied it, and then grinding it out for 18 minutes in the OT.”
Cleveland and Clovis did not meet in the regular season.
No. 1 CLEVELAND 2,
No. 9 ATRISCO HERITAGE 1 (2 OT)
Atrisco Heritage 0 1 0—1
Cleveland 0 1 1—2
Scoring: AH, 72nd, Alex Rios (Javier Guzman); C, 78th, Gabriel Legendre (Luke Beachler); C, 98th, Jairo Barreras (Kevin Vidana). Shots on goal: AH 11; C 15. Saves: AH, Miguel Pedroza 6; C, Ryan Watson 6. Corners: AH 1; C 12. Rec.: C 18-3; AH 13-7.
No. 7 VOLCANO VISTA 4, No. 2 HOBBS 3 (OT): Skylor Rose had a hat trick for the Hawks in a back-and-forth affair, but it was Isai Rivas’ PK in the 89th minute that shipped Volcano Vista (14-5-1) into the semifinals.
A defender for Hobbs (16-4) was whistled for a hand ball in the box as he tried to stop a point-blank shot by the Hawks’ Mason Cole.
Rivas went low and right for the Hawks, who trailed 2-1 at halftime, then had a 3-2 lead in the second half. Volcano Vista freshman goalkeeper Evan Kowalski also came up with a brilliant save in the second half to keep it square at 3-all.
“We took advantage of our opportunities more than they did,” Hawks coach Billy Thiebaut said.
No. 5 CLOVIS 1, No. 4 AHS 0 (OT): All it took was one opening, and it was the Wildcats (18-2-1) who capitalized, as senior Jose Valladares scored the game-winner in the 89th minute for Clovis.
“As soon as I scored,” Valladares said in Spanish through an interpreter, “I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to lay down and cry.”
Clovis coach Greg Trujillo said 1998 was the last time the Wildcats reached the state semifinals.
“It’s a big moment,” said Trujillo. “We come into the postseason and we’re always getting knocked out in the first round. This is new territory.”
AHS (15-3-1) had stellar chances throughout, including a missed PK by Liam Heath-Kennedy’s that clanked off the post in the first half.
“We had an incredible number of chances,” Bulldogs coach Lucien Starzynski said. “Their goalie was absolutely fantastic today.”
No. 6 MAYFIELD 3, No. 3 LA CUEVA 2: La Cueva’s Jake Eanes pulled the Bears (16-3) even at 2-2 with the Trojans (15-5-1) in the 41st minute. The happiness didn’t last long.
A minute later, Trevor Suggs of Mayfield untied the game, and the Trojans then had to hang on against La Cueva’s relentless pressure down the stretch.
“There was tremendous pressure,” said Suggs, a junior forward. “I was telling a teammate, ‘We can’t defend like this for another 20 minutes.’ ”
No one was entirely sure the last time Mayfield had reached this round of the playoffs. The Trojans did not face Volcano Vista during the regular season.\
— James Yodice
(Click here for the Class 5A boys bracket.)
CLASS 1A-3A BOYS
SANTA ANA PUEBLO — With one very notable exception, the Class 1A-3A boys state soccer semifinals are all about fresh new faces.
Monte del Sol, Tierra Encantada and Robertson advanced with quarterfinal victories at the Soccer Complex on Wednesday. The three schools have not won a boys soccer state title between them.
All three remain underdogs to get one this year as the fourth remaining contender is top-seeded Sandia Prep, owner of 10 boys soccer championships.
The Sundevils posted a 3-0 win over New Mexico Military and looked every bit like a program that’s played in eight of the past 10 state finals. They’ll take on No. 5 Tierra Encantada Thursday after the Alacranes edged Hatch Valley in penalty kicks. No. 2 Robertson moved into the semis with a 2-0 victory over Bosque School and will next meet No. 3 Monte del Sol. The Dragons advanced with a 3-1 win over St. Michael’s.
Tierra Encantada coach Kurtis Montoya made no predictions about his team’s chances against Sandia Prep, but his Alacranes did live up to an earlier prediction.
“I told our players at the beginning of the year we’d be a final-four team,” Montoya said. “It’s only our third year as a program but we were a 12 seed last year and we have 11 seniors. I believed we could get here.”
Thursday’s semifinals begin at 12:30 p.m. at the soccer complex.
No. 1 SANDIA PREP 3, No. 9 NMMI 0: Shamus O’leary scored two goals, including an ice-breaker barely a minute into the game, and the Sundevils (13-9-0) controlled the second half of a victory over the Colts (8-10-1).
O’leary cashed in early off a pass from Lucas Sandoval and later capped the scoring with a goal in the 77th minute. In between there were a few anxious moments for the top-seeded Sundevils.
“Getting an early goal definitely helps,” Sandia Prep coach Tommy Smith said, “but it came quite easily and I think we let our guard down. NMMI played hard and had its chances.”
Sandoval scored on an assist from Michael Martinez early in the second half, and the Colts were unable to get anything past Sandia Prep goalkeeper Atlee Gaddis.
NO. 1 SANDIA PREP 3,
NO. 9 NMMI 0
NMMI 0 0—0
Sandia Prep 1 2—3
Scoring: SP, 2nd, Shamus O’leary (Lucas Sandoval); SP, 45th, Sandoval (Michael Martinez); SP, 77th, O’leary (Brian Altavas). Saves: SP, Atlee Gaddis 5; NMMI, Diego Monteverde 4. Shots: SP 7; NMMI 5. Corner Kicks: SP 4; NMMI 1. Rec.: SP 13-8-0; NMMI 8-10-1.
No. 2 ROBERTSON 2, No. 7 BOSQUE SCHOOL 0: TJ Trujillo and Musah Dumbia posted second-half goals and the Cardinals (14-5) held off the Bobcats (13-9).
Dumbia blasted a direct kick off the post that rebounded to Trujillo, who knocked it into an open net to give Robertson the lead. Cardinals goalie Blaze Payne turned aside several close calls before Dumbia scored the clincher on a penalty kick.
No. 3 MONTE DEL SOL 3, NO. 6 ST. MICHAEL’S 1: Sophomore Axel Lozoya completed an impressive hat trick with two second-half goals, and the Dragons (14-3-1) ousted the Horsemen (13-8-1).
Wesley Graham’s shot from the right wing gave St. Mike’s a 1-0 lead, but Monte del Sol got even on Lozoya’s penalty kick late in the first half. Lozoya then nailed a floater from 45 yards out in the 54th minute and hooked a corner kick into the net to make it 3-1 in the 60th.
“I was just trying to put (the second goal) in the box but the keeper came out and it got over him,” Lozoya said. “The corner, I’ve been practicing those all season. That one felt good.”
No. 5 TIERRA ENCANTADA 1, No. 4 HATCH VALLEY 0 (SO): Backup goalkeeper Jose Pichardo came up big for the Alacranes (13-2-0), who edged the Bears (14-6-1) in a shootout.
Pichardo was forced into goal after a knee injury to starter Julian Franco. Hatch outshot the Alacranes in regulation and overtime, but Pichardo came up with a pair of saves and converted one of his team’s penalty kicks as Tierra Encantada won the shootout 4-3.
“Sometimes you’ve got to fly like an eagle,” Pichardo said.
— Ken Sickenger
(Click here for the Class 1A-3A boys bracket.)