(Click here for the Class 5A girls bracket.)
SANTA ANA PUEBLO — There’s is prominent and established girls soccer tradition at La Cueva and Sandia. Friday, the longtime rivals will settle the Class 5A season.
The Bears overcame Cibola, and the Matadors held off Albuquerque High in Thursday afternoon’s semifinals at the complex on the Santa Ana Pueblo.
La Cueva and Sandia meet at 3 p.m. today. The last time they played each other in the season’s final game was 2000.
“I’m so excited to play Sandia in the finals,” La Cueva senior forward Jordyn Maes said.
No. 8 LA CUEVA 3, No. 4 CIBOLA 2: The shot from 15 yards out by Deja Sandoval in the 56th minute went through the hands of Cibola goalkeeper Rylee Tafoya, who reached her hands up to make the save.
The ball squirted through her gloves, however, toward the net. Before Tafoya could retrieve it or swat it aside, it crossed the goal line. That was the game-winner for La Cueva (18-2-1).
“In that moment,” Sandoval said, “I was just hoping it went in.”
Only minutes earlier, Cibola’s superb junior forward Sydni Burrup had tied the game with a magnificent free kick from 30 yards out that carved its way around the La Cueva wall and past Bears goalkeeper Emma Moore.
The Bears are in their third straight championship game. They beat Cleveland in the then-6A division a year ago. La Cueva swamped Sandia 4-1 in a regular season game. But they were in different districts this season.
“It doesn’t really mean anything how much we beat them by in the regular season,” La Cueva coach Amber Ashcraft said. “We’re just excited to be in the finals.”
The Bears are trying to do what Eldorado did in 2009 — win state as an 8 seed.
La Cueva had the first two goals Thursday, including a tally by Maes 40 seconds after kickoff. Hannah Duffy, who had two goals in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, made it 2-0 in the 18th.
Burrup scored on a breakaway in the 22nd minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 for Cibola (16-3-1), which went 1-0-1 against La Cueva in the regular season.
Cougars coach Gary Zink was ejected in the latter stages of the second half after being given a red card.
LA CUEVA 3, CIBOLA 2
La Cueva 2 1 — 3
Cibola 1 1 — 2
Scoring: LC, 1st, Jordyn Maes (Oceana Garcia); LC, 18th, Hannah Duffy (Cam Dixon); C, 22nd, Sydni Burrup; C, 53rd, Burrup; LC, 56th, Deja Sandoval (Maes). Shots on goal: LC 6; C 5. Saves: LC, Emma Moore 3; C, Rylee Tafoya 4. Corners: LC 2; C 1. Records: LC 18-2-1; C 16-3-1.
No. 2 SANDIA 4, No. 6 ABQ HIGH 2: The Matadors (16-4) stunned the Bulldogs (14-5-1) with three goals in the opening 20 minutes. But this proved to be a white knuckler in the second half before Sandia prevailed and advanced to the school’s first title game since 2008.
“The tension level was very high,” Matadors coach Jay Sheraden said.
That’s because Albuquerque High scored both its goals on penalty kicks, by Zaria Katesigwa and Sabrina Reyes, in a three-minute span of extra time at the end of the first half after two fouls on Sandia in the box.
The 3-0 cushion was gone, the momentum for Sandia had vanished, and the halftime suddenly took on extra weight for the Matadors.
“It was more of a ‘Let’s take care of us,'” Sheraden said. “It was all about team unity.”
Sandia largely went into protect mode the rest of the way, stacking its defense. Sapirah Broussard added an insurance goal in the 79th minute for the Matadors.
“Our back line is pretty young, so we wanted to make sure we had all our marks,” said Sandia senior defender Jessica Ganley. “And be sure we didn’t get beat over the top.”
Hannah Gallegos had a goal and two assists in the first half for Sandia. Carena Harrison added a goal and an assist.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be in the state final,” said Sheraden. “We’re looking forward to a phenomenal match against La Cueva.”
AHS 2 0 — 2
Sandia 3 1 — 4
Scoring: S, 4th, Hannah Gallegos; S, 16th, Sapirah Broussard (Gallegos); S, 20th, Carena Harrison (Gallegos); AHS, 41st, Zaria Katesigwa (PK); AHS, 44th, Sabrina Reyes (PK); S, 79th, Broussard (Harrison). Shots on goal: AHS 9; S 17. Saves: AHS, Joanna Finley 9; S, Charlee Wimberley 6. Corners: AHS 7; S 5.