Lady Jaguars win in Gallup

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Slow starts have plagued the Valencia High girls soccer team in a couple of its recent contest. The Lady Jaguars will likely need stronger first halves in its upcoming matches.

Valencia managed a 3-0 road win over Gallup High on Saturday in the District 6-4A opener for both teams. VHS struggled to get an attack going in the first half, but was able to keep the ball in the Gallup end of the field throughout most of the latter part of the contest.

The win improved the Jags' record to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in 6-4A. They were set to take on Miyamura in a much-anticipated matchup late Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time.

The Jaguars are set to play a non-district match at Kirtland Central at 5 p.m. Thursday. Valencia resumes District 6-4A play with a game at 1 p.m. at Grants on Saturday.

"We weren't as tough as we should be," said VHS coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard regarding the Gallup match. "It was obvious we were the better team. We were just really slow."

Haley Baca played the whole match in goal for Valencia, allowing the other goalkeeper, senior Brittany Piro, to play defense. In the 30th minute, Piro took one of the Jags' 13 corner kicks, and Vanessa Sanchez put the ball in for a 1-0 VHS lead.

"This is Vanessa's first year playing a wing spot after having been on defense before, and she's done a lot," said Chavez-Burkhard.

In the second half, the Jags contained the Bengals (4-6, 0-1) much better, and kept the ball in their end of the field. Valencia outshot Gallup in the match, 30-2.

In the 50th minute, Norene Archuleta scored, with Jazirae Chavira getting the assist. Archuleta assisted on a Kaitlynn Craig goal with about three minutes left in the match.

Chavez-Burkhard said the Bengals are much sharper than Gallup teams of the past few years.

"They've improved in every area," said the coach. "And they have some speed in the back."

Thursday, the Jags will take on a 9-2 Kirtland team that has also improved greatly over the past few seasons. Grants always plays scrappy matches against Valencia, but the Jags should have the speed and firepower to be effective against the Lady Pirates (4-4, 0-1).

"We got a taste of Grants when they came to our scrimmage," said Chavez-Burkhard. "The Del Norte match was the best start we had so far, where everyone was connected, and everyone talked. We need more of that."


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