LLHS boys lose physical match

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When the Demons scored in the fifth minute of Friday’s boys soccer match between Santa Fe and Los Lunas, two unexpected things happened.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas’ Valentin Corea, center, tries to keep a Santa Fe High defender at bay in Friday’s physical 1-0 LLHS loss. The Tigers are set to play at Belen in Saturday’s 11 a.m. District 6-4A opener.

First, the goal held up through the rest of 75 minutes of play. Second, the game reverted to a physical battle with each team getting a red card and a yellow.

It was the third straight one-goal loss for the Tigers through the toughest part of their pre-district schedule.

Los Lunas (4-4 after the Santa Fe loss) was set to host Del Norte on Tuesday in a game slated for after News-Bulletin press time. The Tigers had leading scorer Alejandro Garcia set to have Martin Saenz back after serving one-match suspensions for a red card during last week’s Albuquerque High contest.

The Tigers should be at full strength for the District 6-4A opener at Belen at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Gustavo Muñoz had to sit for the Del Norte contest for a red card in the Santa Fe loss.

Red cards were issued to both Muñoz and Santa Fe’s Elijah Wolverton late in the match. A yellow had already been given to Jesus Valerio in the first half.

Both clubs used a very physical defense to keep the score in check. Santa Fe was guilty of several holds, and that seemed to be their main defensive ploy holding on to the one-goal edge.

“We knew going into it that it would be a very physical game,” said Tiger coach Eliseo Agiurre. “We know when it gets like that, we don’t back down. We just need to keep it under control a little bit.”

Santa Fe’s goal came on a free kick. Tiger goalkeeper Dylan Romeo stopped an initial shot, but Santa Fe’s Koa Forese put in the goal on the rebound.

“I thought we played a great game,” said Aguirre. “I thought we had opportunities to score, but we just didn’t finish. We make one mistake all night long and it cost us the game.”

Los Lunas’ Jesus Villa got a yellow card in the last 15 minute of play.

The teams displayed obvious disdain for each other after the contest.

“We just put this game away and say, ‘We will see you at state, and good luck the rest of the way’. That is all that needed to be said,” Aguirre said.

Los Lunas knows that despite the records coming into the Belen match (the Eagles were 1-7 as of Tuesday), the match will be important.

“It will not be an easy win for us whatsoever,” said the coach “It has always been close. All you have to say is ‘Belen-Los Lunas,’ and they pick it up and we pick it up. It won’t be easy.”