SANTA ANA PUEBLO — They opened their seasons against one another 11 weeks ago. Tonight, they will also close against one another.
First-time finalist and No. 1 seed Cleveland, along with upstart Mayfield, will have at it at 6 p.m. Friday at the complex on the Santa Ana Pueblo following Class 5A boys state soccer semifinal victories in the cold and wind of a late Thursday afternoon.
Going back 37 years, there have been 14 schools win blue trophies in the largest classification of boys high school soccer in New Mexico.
Tonight, that number will grow to 15 after the Storm eliminated Clovis and the Trojans downed Volcano Vista. Back on Aug. 24, Cleveland beat Mayfield 2-1 in overtime in Las Cruces.
No. 1 CLEVELAND 4, No. 5 CLOVIS 2: This was, in fact, the Storm’s first-ever semifinal appearance in a state tournament, but led by junior forward Gabriel Legendre’s first-half hat trick, Cleveland (19-3) held off the Wildcats (18-3-1). These were the two winningest — and highest-scoring — teams in 5A during the regular season.
“(Wednesday in the quarterfinals), we were very nervous,” said Legendre.
Those nerves had been purged by Thursday, what with Legendre — who has a 5A-leading 32 goals — scoring twice in the first 11 minutes against Clovis.
“That was very important,” said Legendre, who was assisted on both goals by his younger brother Nick, a freshman. “It started building up our momentum in order to play better.”
He rebounded a shot from Nick to open the scoring four minutes in, then added a header seven minutes later. He completed the hat trick in the 35th minute for a 3-1 lead at halftime.
“They’re like piranha,” Storm coach Shaun Gill said of his team. “They smell blood in the water and just go and go and go.”
Still, the victory was not secure until Jairo Barreras’ goal in the 76th minute; Clovis’ Richard Masterson, with a blast that clipped the under side of the crossbar, brought the Wildcats to within a goal at 3-2 in the 51st minute.
Clovis was trying to get to the state final for the first time since 1998.
On Mayfield, Gill said: “They’ve got a really good midfield, and we’re going to have to account for that. But all year, we’ve been saying that other teams are going to have to adjust to us and our high-powered offense.”
CLEVELAND 4, CLOVIS 2
Clovis 1 1 — 2
Cleveland 3 1 — 4
Scoring: Cle, 4th, Gabriel Legendre (Nick Legendre); Cle, 11th, G.Legendre (N.Legendre); Clo, 28th, Jose Valladares; Cle, 35th, G.Legendre (Kevin Vidana); Clo, 51st, Richard Masterson; Cle, 76th, Jairo Barreras (G.Legendre). Shots on goal: Clo 6; Cle 15. Saves: Clo, Kevin Avila 7; Cle, Ryan Watson 4. Corners: Clo 3; Cle 7.
Records: Cle 19-3; Clo 18-3-1.
No. 6 MAYFIELD 2, No. 7 VOLCANO VISTA 0: The Trojans (16-5-1) last were in the state final in 2010, but they’ve been mightily impressive the last two days, dispatching La Cueva on Wednesday and then the Hawks (14-6-1) on Thursday. Next is Cleveland.
“They’re tough,” Trojans coach Andy Polcano said. “They’re big, they’re fast, but I think we match up pretty well with them.”
Junior midfielder Trevor Suggs’ goal midway through the first half proved to be all Mayfield needed to advance, but Volcano Vista helped with an own goal.
Cameron Conaway provided the key cross on the goal by Suggs, who also authored the game-winner Wednesday in the quarterfinals against La Cueva. Suggs was wide open and volleyed it into the right front corner.
“We knew that we would be tough to beat (in the playoffs),” Suggs said. “We have 10 juniors, but we knew we’d be tough with the connection we have.”
Mayfield lost in the state finals in 2008 and 2003.
“It’s a great moment for us,” Polanco said. “These kids really bought in to what we wanted to do.”
MAYFIELD 2, VOLCANO VISTA 0
Volcano Vista 0 0 — 0
Mayfield 2 0 — 2
Scoring: M, 19th, Trevor Suggs (Cameron Conaway); M, 41st, own goal. Shots on goal: VV 9; M 5. Saves: VV, Evan Kowalski 1; M, Xavier Calderon 7. Corners: VV 3; M 1. Records: M 16-5-1; VV 14-6-1.
(Click here for the Class 5A boys bracket.)