The cast of characters looks pretty much like it always has.
Now they have a new stage.
The APS complex on the West Side today begins its run as the primary host site for the state soccer championships, as 48 boys and girls teams take the pitch for quarterfinal games.
Parking and seating capacities were at a premium during the regular season. The New Mexico Activities Association has expanded parking for state, including a newly created lot just east of the fields. NMAA media director Robert Zayas could not say how many total spaces are available.
Those attending the games are advised to leave plenty of time to get to the site and to park well in advance of kickoff.
Also, 36 new sets of bleachers have been brought in, Zayas said. There were eight during the regular season; there are 44 for the state tournament, according to Zayas.
The six championship games Saturday will be played on the two lower fields. To handle the expected heavy volume of humans, Zayas said, bleachers will be brought to the eastern edge of the two upper fields.
“We will be able to accommodate the crowds,” Zayas said.
As for the soccer, action begins early today with Class the 4A girls quarterfinals. No. 1 Albuquerque Academy, No. 3 St. Pius and No. 4 Volcano Vista will all be playing by 9:30 a.m.
None of last year’s champions in any of the six divisions was seeded lower than No. 3 this year (Bosque School’s girls).
Once-beaten Sandia is trying to defend its 5A girls title, and is seeded to face district rival La Cueva on Saturday afternoon. The Bears are the only team to beat the Matadors this year, in overtime.
Sandia opens with Eldorado in the quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m.
Newcomer Cleveland is the No. 3 seed. The Storm got a big break when the state’s leading scorer, Carlsbad’s Melissa Marshall, was red-carded out of last Saturday’s first-round win over Valley. Marshall can’t play today.
La Cueva’s boys also are out to repeat. The top-seeded Bears play No. 8 Las Cruces in today’s quarters. Sandia is the No. 2 seed and opens with seventh-seeded Cibola.
St. Pius’ boys and Albuquerque Academy’s girls won state in 2008; the Sartans also are a No. 1 seed this week. Sandia Prep has the No. 1 seed in both 1A-3A boys and girls, although Bosque School is the defending champion in both.
Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High also are hosting the 1A-3A boys quarterfinals before that division moves to the complex.