(Click here for the 1A-3A boys bracket.)
It took a misunderstanding of the rules just before halftime to turn a close Class 1A-3A state soccer championship match into one decidedly in Sandia Prep’s favor.
But then, when it comes to state finals, that’s usually the way it goes for the Sundevils.
With a strong 5-2 win Thursday over third-seeded New Mexico Military Institute (15-5-1) at the University of New Mexico Soccer and Track Complex, No. 1 Sandia Prep (21-2) won its second straight championship and 20th blue trophy overall, 13 of those under coach Tommy Smith.
“It doesn’t get old,” Smith said. “Each season is different. It’s like we’re starting over. It doesn’t stop the hunger to still want to win. First full season with the pandemic and we went 21-2. Not many teams win 20 games. All my great teams of the early 2000s, we only won 20 games twice. It’s a difficult thing to do.”
Finnegan Saunders scored in each half, but the game turned just before halftime. With the score tied at 1-all, Jaxon Tregembo lined up for an indirect kick just inside the half line. He launched a perfect ball destined for the goal’s top shelf.
Colts goalkeeper Jorgé Hernandez, facing right into the sun, got only a piece of the shot. Had he not, the score would not have counted.
Tregembo did not realize the foul resulted in an indirect kick, either, meaning another player beside the kicker, must touch it before it can go in the goal.
“I was planning on shooting it all along,” Tregembo said. “I didn’t know it was indirect. I kind of got lucky. But I put it on frame, it was in was a perfect spot so I can’t be happier that it was a goal.”
Sometimes that is all the difference necessary, Smith said.
“I guess he got a touch on it. That’s the reason it was a goal,” he said. “So a little bit of luck, too. Sometimes a little luck helps. That got us going into halftime. You go in 1-1 at half and your whole mindset is different. I think that was huge.”
Tregembo said that was the game changer.
“I know that energized us to put as many goals away as we did in the second half,” he said. “It was over once that goal went in, and I knew it. I knew it.”
No. 1 SANDIA PREP 5, No. 3 NEW MEXICO MILITARY INSTITUE 2
New Mexico Military Institute 1 0- -2
Sandia Prep 2 3- -5
Scoring: SP, 19th, Finnegan Saunders (Leighton Dellabarca); NMMI, 23rd, Ben Zimmerman (John Zimmerman); SP, Jaxon Tregembo (unassisted); SP, 47th, Dellabarca (Tregembo); SP, 69th, Saunders (Mateo Burgos); SP, 72nd, Burgos (Capp Terrell); NMMI, 79th, José Lopez (José Donnadieu).
Shots on goal: NMMI 4; SP 10. CKs: NMMI 2; SP 3. SVs: NMMI, Jorgé Hernandez 5; SP, Alex Jeffries 2.
Records: SP 21-2; NMMI 15-5-1.