ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sundevil girls continue their impressive string of victories over elite high school teams
All things being equal, it’s hard to top the resume of the rivalries that exist in the small-school ranks of high school soccer.
Two of those clubs — the girls programs from Sandia Prep and St. Michael’s — squared off for the first time Tuesday afternoon on the Prep campus.
Along with Hope Christian and, to a lesser extent, Bosque School and Santa Fe Prep, the teams have transformed the small-school soccer scene into a private school cavalcade this decade. Prep has reached the Class 1A-3A state championship match five years running while the Lady Horsemen have been there six of the last eight seasons.
In fact, every title game this decade has involved a private school. You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find the last girls’ public school program in the finals (Los Alamos), but none since the reclassification of 1A-3A in 2000.
On Tuesday, the host Sundevils (6-2-1) struck the first blow in what surely will be multiple encounters with the Lady Horsemen this season. Their 3-0 decision over St. Michael’s was but the latest in an impressive string of victories thus far. Prep has also beaten perennial 5A power La Cueva as well as Los Alamos, now in 4A.
The Sundevils’ last goal in Tuesday’s game was scored by freshman Savannah Davidson. Afterward she lept into the cradling arms of midfielder Julia Thompson, a junior.
“It’s hard to believe, but they’re so young,” St. Micahel’s coach Ed Velie said of Prep.
The Sundevils’ roster has just three seniors. The Lady Horsemen have four — one of whom is Jamie Palermo. Palermo is one of St. Michael’s leading scorers but will be stuck between the pipes for a while thanks to a concussion suffered by starting goalie Sally Feldewert.
“Let’s just say we were breathing a little easier today,” said Sandia Prep coach Rick Smith.
There was a time when it appeared the powers that be planned to align the private school powers into the same district — an idea that would have made the state’s most dominant top-to-bottom district in any sport regardless of class.
“I’d have been fine with it either way; in fact, I had no problem with it at all,” Velie said. “We’re going to play these teams anyway.”
When the dust settles on the 2009 season, it’s a safe bet the final four will include a mix of Prep, Bosque, Hope or St. Michael’s. Public school entities such as Socorro and Portales could crack that quartet come November, but the safe money is on the private programs.
“Really, we see each other so often there aren’t that many surprises,” Smith said. “There are a number of their players we know all too well.”