Rio Rancho High’s boys and girls soccer teams, along with Cibola’s girls and Sandia’s boys, reached Friday night’s title games of the Albuquerque Metro Championships.
Those four won semifinal games on a cool Wednesday night at the APS Complex.
Sandia’s boys and the Rams will play at 7:15 p.m. Friday. The Rio Rancho girls and the Cougars, District 1-5A rivals, meet at 7:30 p.m.
RIO RANCHO 1, ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 0: The most anticipated of the four semifinals was the most closely contested of the four.
“Anytime you can beat Academy,” Rams coach John Shepard said, “it’s a season-changing result.”
Senior midfielder Kaden Schufft’s set-piece goal in the 11th minute stood up for the defending Class 5A state champion Rams (5-1) as they held on to beat the defending 4A champion Chargers (3-1).
Schufft, in the box, redirected a corner kick for the goal. But it wasn’t with his head or his foot.
It was with his right hip.
“That was the first,” Schufft said, asked how many goals in his life he had scored with his hip.
The Rams also hit the crossbar twice in the first half.
In the second half, a tired Rio Rancho side — playing its sixth game in 11 days — had to fight through fatigue.
“We definitely were tired,” Shepard said. “And none (of our six games) were easy games, so we had to gut it out tonight.”
Said Schufft of the Chargers: “That’s the hardest team we’ve played so far.”
SANDIA 3, LA CUEVA 0: Junior forward Connor Cousins had a pair of goals for the Matadors (3-1), who also benefited from an own goal by the Bears (3-1) in this all-District 2-5A semifinal.
“We played really good,” Cousins said. “Our defensive had it on lock.”
Cousins played a direct kick off his right foot on the 6-yard line in the 15th minute to open the scoring. Later, in the 50th minute, he split a pair of La Cueva defenders, went wide and chipped home a goal from a tough angle for the third goal.
“He has speed, aggression, he’s technically gifted,” Sandia coach Ryan Sanchez said of Cousins, who has four goals. “But the best thing about him is his soccer IQ.”
CIBOLA 4, ELDORADO 1: To hear the Cougars (4-0) tell it, the most important goal of the game was the first goal of the game — and it was scored by the Eagles (2-1-1). It was also the first goal Cibola surrendered this season.
“That goal gave us momentum,” said Cibola senior forward Mercedes Morris. “We knew we had to get back into it, and come back strong. We didn’t take it as a negative, we took it as a positive.”
Joyce Sanchez had the equalizer for Cibola in the 26th minute, but it was Morris’ goal, in the 40th, right before halftime, that put the Cougars ahead for good. Hers was a rebound goal off a direct kick.
Emily Aguilar’s 44th-minute goal was insurance, as was Booke Volza’s tally in the 72nd.
RIO RANCHO 3, CLEVELAND 0: The Rams (6-0) also took advantage of an own goal. That one was technically the game-winner, although Rio Rancho in the second half added tallies from senior forward Sierra Martin and junior forward Trinity Romero in this victory over the Storm (5-1).
“We went in (to the season) slightly worried because we didn’t actually have a keeper,” Martin said. “So we’ve been working very hard defensively, making sure other teams don’t get any shots.”