The Rio Rancho High School girls soccer team on Wednesday night learned what many are likely to learn:
The La Cueva Bears are going to be a hard out come November.
“It’s a big team and a physical team and they’re usually in sync,” Ram coach Uwe Balzis said from the APS Complex after his team fell 3-1 to the Bears in the semifinals of the Albuquerque Metro Soccer Championships.
La Cueva, the defending Class 5A state champion, was dominant throughout, building a 3-0 lead before Rio Rancho picked up a late goal from senior forward Brianna Hemmert.
“You know, we played pretty even, but La Cueva took advantage of their chances and they finished,” Balzis said. “We just could not create scoring opportunities.”
Although the Rams made some offensive adjustments during halftime, “La Cueva won a lot of one-on-ones in the back. They were hard to beat.”
The Rams (4-2) take on District 1-5A rival Cibola (2-2) for third place Friday. The Cougars fell 2-0 to Volcano Vista in Wednesday night’s other semifinal.
Rio Rancho finished 2-1 in its pool last week to advance to the semis. Although the Rams lost to Eldorado, they rebounded with a 5-0 win over Valley and a 3-0 shutout of Albuquerque Academy.
Hemmert had a pair of goals in the Valley game. Brittany Shrader, Sophie Rodriguez and Alicia Herrera tallied in the Academy matchup.
♦ Cleveland’s girls went 2-1 in its pool, but finished second to La Cueva. The Storm last week blanked Del Nore 4-0 as Savannah Montoya had a goal and assist, and Cleveland was beaten 2-1 by the Bears on a 66th-minute goal by Jordyn Lacy.
On Wednesday, Cleveland lost 3-1 to Eldorado. Audriana Chavez had the Storm’s goal.
After a 3-0 start, Cleveland has dropped three in a row.
The Storm was beaten 3-1 on Tuesday by Atrisco Heritage Academy in the consolation bracket of the metro tournament. Parker Jones had Cleveland’s goal.
The Storm offense has been silent during this losing streak.
Last week to conclude pool play, Cleveland lost 1-0 to Valley in a penalty-kick shootout that produced 100 minutes of scoreless regulation soccer, and the Storm was beaten 5-0 by Albuquerque Academy.
Cleveland has scored just one goal in the last 260 minutes of regulation play, not including extra time.
Cleveland faces Del Norte today in the Storm’s final metro tournament contest.
♦ Rio Rancho shut out Del Norte 8-0 on Tuesday with a balanced scoring attack.
“And our defense really shut them down,” Ram coach John Shepard said.
The Rams face Atrisco Heritage today in the metro tournament.
Last week, Rio Rancho also fell 5-3 to Eldorado, and edged Rio Grande 2-1.
NOTE: Cleveland and Rio Rancho are competing in the APS metro tournaments for the first time.