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Rams, Storm varsity boys teams end title hopes in semifinal losses

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Any hopes for a state title for a City of Vision varsity boys soccer team, or even a meeting between Cleveland and Rio Rancho, died about 15 minutes apart Thursday afternoon on adjacent fields of the Bernalillo soccer complex.

Shortly after the seventh-seeded Rams saw their hopes for a first-ever state title vanish, so, too, did the hopes of last year’s 5A-champion Storm.

Hobbs 2, Rio Rancho 0: Rams scoring leader David “Thumper” Hite tried to hold back the tears shortly after his high school soccer career had ended.

What’s next for the team’s scoring leader?

“Making myself a good life in college,” he said, after sniffing.

The Rams had what he estimated to be “a good five or six (scoring opportunities),but couldn’t put them away,” he said. “I had a duty to do and I didn’t fulfill it.”

The rest of his team may have felt the same way.

The Eagles (17-5-1), who last met the Rams in a 2015 state quarterfinal game and lost, 2-1, led 1-0 at halftime and survived numerous charges by the Rams. An insurance goal, probably bent “like Beckham,” came off a corner kick that hit the post to the left of ‘keeper Marc Silcox and caromed into the twine.

Hobbs got to the semifinal contest after the No. 6 Eagles got past visiting No. 11 Volcano Vista, 3-2, in two overtimes in the first round, followed by a another 3-2 victory over 1-5A champ Atrisco Heritage Academy, the 3 seed, in the quarterfinals.

In other words, the sixth-seeded Eagles danced through 1-5A to have the right to meet the 1 seed, beating Volcano Vista, AHA and Rio Rancho — and, had Cleveland won, would have met all four of 1-5A’s state contenders. Instead, 15 minutes after the Rams-Eagles contest ended, the Storm were goners, too.

Albuquerque High 3, Cleveland 2: In the final minute of the first overtime session, AHS (20-0) midfielder Andres Robles was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty kick.

His shot beat CHS goalkeeper Andreas Chacon and the Storm (16-6) were done.

Earlier, Nicholas Legendre had scored when he headed a line drive kick from his brother Gabe into the ‘Dogs’ net. But back-to-back tallies in a two-minute span of the second half turned what had been a 1-0 halftime lead for the fourth-seeded Storm into a 2-1 deficit.

No problem: Gabe Legendre tied the game in the 70th minute, and neither team scored the final 10 minutes, necessitating OT.

AHS was ranked No. 7 in the nation — and No. 1 in Region VIII — in the USA Today/United Soccer Coaches Super 25. Like the Storm, with a first-round bye, the Bulldogs advanced after a quarterfinal OT win Wednesday, 4-3, over La Cueva.

“They’re good. They’re No. 1 for a reason, but we gave them a heck of a game,” Storm coach Shaun Gill said. “Like we were telling the guys, we left it on the field.

“We played hard; we brought the intensity. They did everything we asked, and I’m proud of them,” he said. “We performed very well today.”

Check out quarterfinal wins

Cleveland 2, Gadsden 1 (PKs): There literally wasn’t enough light on the assigned field for this one to be completed Wednesday, so the teams and fans headed north to a lighted field for the scoreless second OT session and then the suspense-filled shootout.

That decisive session featured two Panthers shots off the crossbar. Meanwhile, all four Storm shooters — Gabe Legendre, Victor Andrade, Nicholas Legendre, who’d given the Storm the 1-0 lead, and Alexis Pardo — found the back of the net.

Chacon turned in an outstanding performance, thwarting a Gadsden PK in the 53rd minute, to help advance his team, crediting the crossbar.

“It helped me more than three times in this game,” he said. “It was a tough game. I’m glad we could come through.”

“I hope we knocked some rust off,” Gill said. “We haven’t played in two weeks.”

In the first round, the No. 5 Panthers (17-4-1) beat their District 3-5A foe, Onate, 3-1, for the right to meet the Storm.

Rio Rancho 2, Mayfield 1: The No. 2 Trojans, who lost last year’s 5A championship game to Cleveland, were sent packing and Rams coach John Shepard, after making sure his players consoled the Trojans after their loss Wednesday afternoon, could tell his guys they were in the final four.

Lamar Bynum gave the Rams a 1-0 lead that stood up to intermission, and after the Trojans (19-2) tied the game, Braulio Cabrera’s direct kick from about 25 yards out found the back of the net — and the Rams held on for the game’s final three-plus minutes.

Junior ‘keeper Milo Goetz went the distance for the winners.

“I’ll take it,” Shepard said. “I think the boys can be super-proud. I mean, Mayfield, obviously — a top, top team all year. … Mayfield is so disciplined and so skilled and so well put together. It took one of our best efforts and we came up big when we needed to.”

The Trojans, who beat RRHS 2-0 in the Rams’ opener in Las Cruces on Aug. 23, were beaten by the Storm, 2-1 in double-OT, in last November’s championship game.

Rams 1, Eldorado 0 (shootout): On a sunny Saturday, Nov. 2, afternoon at Rio Rancho Stadium, 100 minutes wasn’t enough time to decide who’d move on to the next round.

So the teams held a shootout in what turned out to be unusual fashion: Rams starting goalkeeper Goetz had kept the ball out of the net all afternoon … but Shepard opted to insert senior Silcox between the pipes for the shootout.

Silcox had been on the field, playing several positions, before donning the ‘keeper shirt.

“Marc is kind of a goalkeeping savant … he’s just got a knack for PKs,” Shepard said.

But, wait — there’s more: Goetz was among the Rams’ first five “shooters” to unleash penalty kicks.

So, after Silcox stopped the Eagles’ first shooter, Goetz put the Rams up, 1-0, in the shootout. Silcox stopped the second shooter as well, but RRHS’s Kaden Schufft was also stymied.

The teams then traded successful goals: After Eldorado knotted it at 2 to start the third round, Hite put the Rams ahead, 2-1. Eldorado’s next shooter basically rolled it in, but Lamar Bynum put his team up, 3-2.

It came down to the fifth round, and after Eldorado tied it again at 3, freshman Jamal Bynum, Lamar’s brother, found the left corner open and the Rams found themselves delirious — and in the state quarterfinals.

“You could say we dominated the second half, yes, but Eldo was playing a really hard-packed defense on us. That was their game plan, so they have to get some credit, too,” Shepard said. “They took away what we’re used to. … (and) Milo coming back (from a concussion) and getting a shutout? It just gives us confidence.”

It was the Rams’ third win of the season over the Eagles, and on as many different fields. The last time the Rams and Eagles met in the postseason, it was a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals by EHS.

“I think my boys earned it and they worked dang-hard to get it,” Shepard said.

And, in light of his contributions, Silcox was named the GameDay Player of the Week by KOB-TV.

Storm girls succumb early

Two falls after playing in the state championship game, the ninth-seeded Storm headed south to Las Cruces and lost to Mayfield (16-4-1), 2-1. Josie Crump tallied the lone goal for Cleveland about midway through the second half, trimming the Trojans’ lead to one goal.

The Storm, ending their season with a 9-9-1 record, had dropped their second game of the season to Mayfield, 1-0, although the outcome required a second overtime session.

For Storm senior McKenna Ford, the team’s leading scorer, if it wasn’t for bad luck, she’d have no luck at all: After her recent return from incurring a concussion, Ford broke her wrist on the pitch Saturday.

“We dominated the first 20 minutes,” CHS coach Greg Rusk said. “Then our goalkeeper (Ashlyn Bartley) made a mistake and they scored on their first real shot on goal.”

The Storm trailed at halftime, 1-0, and early in the second half, Rusk said, “They scored from distance to make it 20-0.

“Five minutes later, McKenna was fouled 23 yards out and broke her wrist.”

After a 12-minute delay for Ford to be treated, Crump scored on the ensuing direct kick.

After that, Rusk said, “We pressured but couldn’t put another in, but we came close.”

This is what scoring the game-winner gets you: Braulio Cabrera is carried off the field by his Rio Rancho soccer teammates Wednesday afternoon.