SANTA ANA PUEBLO — The old guard Friday showed that it was not ready to concede its place atop the Class 1A-3A girls soccer landscape to the hungry up-and-comers.
Top-seeded Sandia Prep sent its seven seniors off in style with a 4-1 win over No. 2 Socorro at the soccer complex. It is the Sundevils’ fourth straight state championship.
“This team has worked so hard for this,” said senior defender Jacqueline Rodriguez, who scored the game’s first goal. “It would be a really sad day if we didn’t pull through with all the work we put in. Seven seniors, we’ve been together since the very beginning. We’ve worked hard the past five years for this.”
Sandia Prep (22-1) only lost to 4A Hope Christian. It was the kind of season the team expected, said coach Matt Westerlund.
“The tradition of Prep,” he said in explaining the team’s success. “I keep coming back to that. We’re a soccer school.”
The Sundevils certainly had no expectations of letting the Warriors (19-4) get in the way.
“We’re a school that has expectations of winning state,” Westerlund said. “We have expectations of winning every game this season. And I think that’s exactly what our goal was.”
Rodriguez got Prep on the board in the eighth minute after a corner kick from Maddie Hashagen.
“The first goal sets the tone of the game, and we really needed that,” Rodriguez said. “We came out really hard, and it just came.”
Socorro had a chance to get back into it a minute later, but Sundevils goalkeeper Samantha Jeffries pushed the ball over the net on an Elise Madril direct shot from 19 yards out.
And a few minutes later, Jeffries got caught out high after missing a challenge and Socorro’s Consuelo Apache launched a shot at the unguarded net. But defender Mika Juan was there to absorb the attempt.
“She kicked it and it hit me in the chest,” Juan said. “I just kind of stood there. Thank God it didn’t go in. That would have been awful if it would have gone in.”
That was the game’s turning point, said Warriors coach Michael Olguin.
“I think it would have changed the whole momentum of the game,” he said of the potential goal. “Call it the soccer gods or whatever you want to call it, their girls were in the right place at the right time. It just shows that we had a chance. We had a fighting chance. We just had to keep creating the opportunities that we created, but we just didn’t convert as well as they did.”
Indeed, that’s exactly what the Sundevils did in the closing minutes of the first half.
First Ava Forrester tracked down a through ball from Isa Gilbert to create a breakaway goal, then Gilbert raced onto a long ball from Ellie Cook and finished to give the Sundevils a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.
Socorro got a late goal from Apache to stave off a shutout.
“Our mascot speaks for itself,” Olguin said. “They’re true warriors. But I said (Thursday) that we cannot make the mistakes that we made. We made some unfortunate mistakes and right away they take advantage of it. But these girl, they fight. They fight and they never give up as you can see. We battle to the very last second.”
No. 1 SANDIA PREP 4, No. 2 SOCORRO 1
Socorro 0 1- -1
Sandia Prep 3 1- -4
Scoring: SP, 8th, Jacqueline Rodriguez (Maddie Hashagen); SP, 37th, Ava Forrester (Isa Gilbert); SP, 38th, Gilbert (Ellie Cook); SP, 59th, Hashagen (Kilee Mounyo); S, 77th, Consuelo Apache, (Kaylene Baca).
Shots on goal: S, 8; SP 14. Corner kicks: S 1; SP 4. Saves: S, Chailynn Amaro 10; SP, Samantha Jeffries 6; team 1. Records: SP 22-1; S 19-4.