The 2018 season was the first time the Cibola High School girls soccer program won the Albuquerque Metro Championships.
No one else has won it since.
The Cougars, along with Sandia’s boys, earned those mammoth Metro trophies on Friday night in front of large crowds at the APS Complex. The Cougars edged Rio Rancho, while the Matadors beat defending Class 5A state champion Rio Rancho in overtime.
CIBOLA 1, RIO RANCHO 0: For the third time this season, senior forward Mercedes Morris had the game-winning goal for the Cougars (5-0), who won the Metro crown for the third straight full season. It wasn’t played in the spring this year.
Emily Aguilar’s perfectly placed through ball up the center of the field found Morris, who raced in alone on Rio Rancho goalkeeper Samantha Shaver in the 24th minute. Morris faked left, went right, Shaver was out of position and Morris — who has committed to the University of New Mexico — scored about the easiest goal of her Cibola career as she tapped it into a wide open net.
“Honestly,” she said, “it was a breeze.”
Cibola’s defense, and senior goalkeeper Rylee Tafoya, made the goal stand up as the Cougars won for the fourth time by shutout in the first two weeks of the season and beat District 1-5A rival Rio Rancho (6-1).
“It says a lot,” said Tafoya, who missed the first week of Metros as she was in COVID-19 quarantine. “We have a strong defense, the goalie working with the defenders, we’re like a family.”
Cibola coach Heath Weihe said three-peating was a priority.
“They’ve been practicing hard from Day One this summer, when they decided they wanted to be metro champs again,” he said.
Morris had the game-winner in Wednesday’s semifinals against Eldorado, and also the game’s only goal in Cibola’s crucial pool play game against La Cueva.
CIBOLA 1, RIO RANCHO 0
Rio Rancho 0 0 — 0
Cibola 1 0 — 1
Scoring: C, 24th, Mercedes Morris (Emily Aguilar). Shots on goal: RR 6; C 16. Saves: RR, Samantha Shaver 10; C, Rylee Tafoya 6. Corners: RR 1; C 9.
SANDIA 2, RIO RANCHO 1 (OT): Senior Christian Baker’s blast midway through the first overtime sent the Matadors (5-0) to their metro championship.
“This has to be top three for sure (in my career),” Baker said.
Matadors outside back Rider Pier crossed it over, Dylan Rivas headed it, and from there, Baker side volleyed a blast from just inside the 18-yard box.
“This is a special group of guys, we’ve known each other for four years, been best friends for four years,” said Baker.
“We’ve always had thoughts of this year, we thought this would be our golden year, and it’s turning into reality so far. But there’s a lot of season to go. We have to keep ourselves healthy and our mindset good.”
Connor Cousins, in the 7th minute, staked Sandia to a lead. Evan Spell had the equalizer in the 45th minute for the Rams (5-2).
“This only pushes us higher,” Sandia coach Ryan Sanchez said. “We passed our first bar, now we have to get better.”
SANDIA 2, RIO RANCHO 1 (OT)
Sandia 1 0 1 — 2
Rio Rancho 0 1 0 — 1
Scoring: S, 7th, Connor Cousins; RR, 45th, Evan Spell (Jamal Bynum); S, 85th, Christian Baker. Shots on goal: S 10; RR 14. Saves: S, Jonathan Wood 6; RR, Joseph Diaz 3, Antonio Cross-Guillen 4. Corners: S 4; RR 6.