SANTA ANA PUEBLO – For a brief moment Thursday in the quarterfinals of the girls Class 1A-4A state soccer tournament, it appeared that Santa Fe Prep would finally handle its nemesis St. Michael’s.
With about 15 minutes left in the game, the sixth-seeded Blue Griffins scored goals about a minute apart to reverse a 1-0 deficit.
But the No. 3 Lady Horsemen haven’t dominated the series by caving in.
St. Mike’s scored two late goals, by Monse Camarena and Claire Lee, to earn a hard-fought, 3-2 victory and advance to today’s semifinals against a nemesis of its own in No. 2 Hope Christian.
“It was a fun game,” said Griffins coach Stephanie Coppola. “You never know what you’re going to get when you play a rival.”
Indeed, in the previous meeting during district play, the Lady Horsemen (16-5) came away with an easy 6-1 victory, but coach Gerzain Chavez said he knew this would be different.
“It was too exciting,” he said.
Santa Fe Prep (12-8) had the early run of the play, but Astrid Giblin knocked one in midway through the first half for St. Mike’s.
When the sides flipped, the wind seemed to, as well, and the Griffins pressed the attack relentlessly.
And finally it clicked as Lynn Robey tapped it in after keeper Joceyln Fernandez couldn’t control a corner kick.
And just seconds later, defender Isabella Childs broke free on a breakaway counterattack that she finished with a nifty left-footer inside the near post.
“We played some very fine soccer at times,” Coppola said. “That bodes well for the future.”
St. Mike’s, however, refused to let the future be now.
“The good thing is they continued to fight,” Chavez said. “They didn’t give up. It was a sloppy game with nerves because we had a lot of girls who were here for the first time.”
Camarena, however, was not one of those. The state’s leading scorer, Camarena charged onto a 50-50 ball, challenging the Griffins goalkeeper. The ball pinballed between the two and Camarena was able to gain control and slip it past uncontested for the equalizer.
And moments later, Lee put away the game winner with a booming blast.
“We weren’t surprised,” she said of the game’s intensity. We know they’re a good team.”
But the team got a charge out of Fernandez, who when she isn’t wearing goalkeeper’s gloves wears football receiving gloves.
“She just yelled at us to get going,” Lee said. “We all knew we had to pick it up.”
In other local matches of note, No. 9 Robertson (13-7-2) lost to top-seeded Sandia Prep 8-0 and No. 7 Taos (12-6-1) fell to Hope 2-0.