The best girls soccer team in Class 4A? It wouldn’t be difficult to generate plenty of lively debate on this.
Undefeated Hope Christian (14-0) has the division’s best record.
But there is little debate that St. Pius has cobbled together 4A’s most impressive résumé.
The Sartans claimed another 5A victim Tuesday afternoon, scoring twice in the final seven minutes to beat visiting Centennial 3-1.
“This group, they believe in what they bring to the table,” Sartans coach David Sullivan Jr. said. “If we stay on that line of belief, we’ll be in good shape.”
According to MaxPreps.com, Cibola is New Mexico’s No. 1 team in a poll that encompasses all three soccer classifications. Cibola is also ranked No. 21 nationally by MaxPreps.
No. 2 on the New Mexico poll is St. Pius (9-1), and the Sartans beat Cibola. St. Pius also has knocked off Rio Rancho (the team that lost in the metro final to Cibola), plus Volcano Vista, before knocking off the Hawks (11-3-1) on Tuesday. Centennial is ranked No. 9 overall in New Mexico, and No. 7 in Class 5A.
“This year has been going kind of how we expected,” St. Pius senior center midfielder Kyera Chavez said. “We’ve had a few struggles, but when it counts, our team doesn’t give up and we continue to fight for what we know we can do.”
The Cibola victory, 2-1 on Sept. 7, was a microcosm of that grit, Sullivan said. The Cougars outshot the Sartans 12-2 that day.
“They never give up on themselves,” he said.
Chavez authored the game-winning goal Tuesday. She had entered the game just minutes before as a substitute and has been coming back from a recent injury.
Enmarae Torres’ ball into the center was headed home by Chavez, who fell down on the play and didn’t realize straight away that the ball had gone into the net.
That occurred in the 73rd minute, for a 2-1 lead.
Junior striker Natasha Montoya, who also had the first goal of the game for the Sartans, provided insurance in the 77th minute, taking Gabby Jeantete’s feed from the left wing, deep into the box, and sliding the shot low into the corner for a 3-1 advantage.
Montoya had opened the scoring in the 25th minute. But persistent Centennial pressed hard early in the second half and earned the equalizer in the 49th minute on Kennedy Herrera’s goal.
St. Pius has outscored opponents 27-7 this season. Four of those goals came in its only loss, to rival Albuquerque Academy late last month.
“Our defense is tough,” Sullivan said. “We’re limiting teams’ good opportunities.”
With only about 2 1/2 weeks left in the regular season, St. Pius on Tuesday passed the most difficult game left on its schedule prior to the postseason.
“We’ve been doing really good,” said Montoya, “but we have to focus on these next few games and be able to do good so we can (possibly) play Academy again, and Hope, and do good for state.”
• Also Tuesday, visiting La Cueva (11-2, 5-0) won 5-1 at second-place Eldorado (6-5-2, 3-1-1) in a District 2-5A showdown.