Lady Jaguars start slow in soccer loss, 1-0

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There have been improvements for the Valencia High girls soccer team within its pre-district matches of 2012-13. Saturday, the Lady Jaguars will attempt to build upon that progress, and get a District 6-4A victory in the process.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Ashley Rubio, of Valencia, center, outleaps Valley defenders for a ball in Tuesday’s match. The Lady Jaguar lost to Valley, 1-0, and are set to open District 6-4A play with an 11 a.m. match on the road against Gallup on Saturday.

The Jags, who lost a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Valley on Tuesday, are 4-2 on the season, and are hoping to contend for the 6-4A title. Their district opener is set for 11 a.m. Saturday on the road against Gallup with the boys match to follow.

Tuesday, the Jags are set to return to Gallup to face Miyamura in a 4 p.m. match. Miyamura is the two-time defending 6-4A champion.

In the Valley match, the Jags appear to struggle a little in their first match of the season on artificial turf. The fast-moving, high-bounce surface made it difficult for VHS players to control the ball and complete passes along the ground, especially between forwards, though coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard said intensity was a bigger issue early on.

“We came out flat, and played lazy,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “We weren’t paying attention, and we had no transition.”

Valley’s Annie Garcia got a long pass in the middle in the 18th minute and split the Jaguar defenders. She basically had a breakaway with Jag goalkeeper Brittany Piro, and scored on the senior for what would end up being the only goal of the day.

However, the Jags eventually heeded their coach’s pleas to pick up their game, and started winning more 50-50 balls and passing to teammates.

Valley (4-3), on the other hand, got into the bad habit of kicking the ball up and down the field, especially in the second half.

The Jags slowly put more and more pressure on the Vikings, and outshot them 5-0 in the second half and 10-6 in the match. Valencia even had a 9-3 edge in corner kicks, and created a number of late opportunities that nearly resulted in a goal.

“If we would have had just a few more minutes, we would have had them,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “We won the second half. We just happened to be behind when the game ended.”

Chavez-Burkhard praised the work of Haley Baca, the Jag goalkeeper who played Tuesday’s second half.

The junior has been splitting time with Piro, and she broke up a few Valley plays before the Vikings could get off a solid shot.

The Jags don’t know how long they’ll be without junior defender Miranda Kittridge, who suffered a concussion and a knee injury in a scary collision in a Sept. 14 match.

Chavez-Burkhard said Gallup (3-5) is improved, but Valencia will still be a heavy favorite in Saturday’s match.

After Tuesday’s Miyamura showdown, the Jags are scheduled to play a non-district match at Kirtland Central at 5 p.m. Thursday. They’re set to play a 6-A match at Grants on Saturday, Sept. 29.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.