The Cibola Cougars have been here before.
Where they proceed after Friday night remains an open-ended question.
“I don’t think anybody was ready for that kind of pressure last year,” junior Joe Ortiz said after Cibola edged La Cueva 1-0 in the final of the Albuquerque Metro Soccer Championships at the APS Complex.
Cibola won its first nine games last year, although the Cougars, by their own admission, was unable to sustain that momentum in the second half of the season.
Cibola is 5-0 after repeating as metro champs, and the Cougars, to a man, feel they won’t be hindered by the same issue this fall.
“We’re a more mature team this year,” said Ortiz, who provided two crucial goals for his team in the last two games.
Rio Rancho’s girls joined Cibola in taking home the enormous metro first-place trophy. The Rams’ Lexi Nutter scored two goals off direct kicks – one of them nearly 60 yards away – in a 2-1 victory over La Cueva on a windy night on the West Side.
Nutter is one of the Rams’ top defenders, but her goals beg the question as to why she doesn’t play up top.
“Because I have more of a defensive drive,” Nutter answered.
But, she is the Rams’ designated free kicker, and her leg strength and accuracy proved vital to Rio Rancho (7-0) on Friday.
“Winning this (tournament) doesn’t guarantee anything,” Rio Rancho coach Uwe Balzis said, “but it’s a great confidence setter.”
Cleveland’s girls lost in penalty kicks (5-4) to Eldorado in the third-place game.
TUESDAY: Bosque School’s boys defeated Monte del Sol from Santa Fe 3-1, and Albuquerque High’s boys edged Cleveland 1-0.
St. Pius’ girls outscored Los Alamos 4-3, and Manzano blanked West Mesa’s girls 2-0.
WEDNESDAY: Cibola’s boys got an overtime goal from Christian Canales in a 4-3 metro semifinal win over Sandia.
Volcano Vista’s boys routed Del Norte 5-1 as Andy Luca scored twice for the Hawks.
Rio Rancho’s girls slipped past Cleveland in the metro semis, with Shelby Garner and Imani Morlock scoring for the Rams. Highland beat Valley’s girls 2-1 in penalty kicks.
THURSDAY: Bosque School defeated St. Pius 2-1 in boys’ action; Kyle Gay had the game-winner in the 58th minute for the Bobcats.
Eldorado’s boys clamped down on Cleveland 4-0, and AHS downed Valley 1-0.
St. Pius’ girls cruised past Los Lunas 5-1, Cibola’s girls doubled up AHS 2-1, West Mesa beat Rio Grande 4-1 and Volcano Vista’s girls blanked Sandia 3-0 as Jade Talbot had a goal and an assist for the Hawks.