Rio Rancho High School girls soccer coach Uwe Balzis isn’t sure if this year’s team is his best ever, but the 2014 Rams are off to their best start in school history.
Behind a pair of long-distance shots by Lexi Nutter Friday evening, the Rams beat La Cueva 2-1 in the APS Metro Championships title game at the APS soccer complex.
Cassie Boren tallied the Bears’ goal, which came with less than 18 minutes to play against sophomore ‘keeper Sara Wilmot, who’d also allowed a late goal to Cleveland in the Rams’ 2-1 semifinal win Wednesday.
“At halftime, we were leading 2-0 and you could feel they felt, ‘Yeah, we can beat La Cueva,'” Balzis said.
La Cueva got to the championship game out of pool play and beat its District 2-5A rival and last year’s 5A champ, Eldorado, 2-1. La Cueva (4-1), featured in a video on YouTube (“Hell Week”), gets a chance to avenge that rare loss Thursday when it meets the Rams again at the APS complex at 4:30 p.m.
Oddly, the year the Rams won the state championship, back in 2007, they’d also gotten off to a 6-0 start, only to lose to La Cueva in their seventh game of the season.
“It was very fun,” Balzis said of the victory over the Bears, who RRHS last beat 3-1 in the 2011 season but had defeated the Rams 3-1 in the 2012 APS Metro Championships and 2-0 in a state quarterfinal game in 2011.
“You don’t win this metro stuff every year — and against La Cueva, too, that’s better,” Balzis said, knowing two tests loomed this week for the Rams, who entertained St. Pius X — last year’s 4A titlist — Tuesday before the rematch with La Cueva.
“We have a good team this year — everybody played up and to their levels,” Balzis said. “Some of the younger ones are coming around and getting better.”
As for Wilmot, who hasn’t made it a secret she’d prefer to be out on the pitch rather than tending goal, “Sara is outstanding – she is working so hard with her inexperience and every game it looks a little better. I’m proud of her,” he said.
“Sara will play in the field, too, but against the better teams, she will be in goal,” he said.
“In terms of creativity and creating chances, this year’s team is the best I had. They can create good plays up front and ‘through plays.’ That 2007 team had very good individual players – we had a very tough team. We had bigger players back then and that was the difference.”
Headers: In the third-place game Friday evening, Cleveland and defending state champ Eldorado played to a scoreless tie. The Eagles then beat the Storm 5-4 on penalty kicks.
… RRHS alum Melissa Moxley, a junior defender, tallied the first goal of the season for the Eastern New Mexico women’s soccer team last week. The score ignited the Zia offense and nearly brought the team back from a 3-0 deficit against Western State.
… Junior goalkeeper Xan Ortiz, a Storm alum, made four saves, but the ENMU women’s soccer team (0-2) also dropped a 2-1 decision to Regis University Sunday afternoon at the Regis Match Pitch. Two of the three meetings between the teams have been decided by a single goal.