Lady Jags lose showdown, but beat quality foe

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Tuesday, it was one they really wanted. Thursday, they redeemed themselves.

News-Bulletin file photo: Valencia’s Vanessa Sanchez leaps for a ball in a recent match. The Lady Jaguars lost a district match Miyamura on Tuesday before winning at Kirtland Central on Thursday, and are set to play a 1 p.m. district contest at Grants on Saturday. They also have a 4 p.m. match at Belen scheduled for Tuesday.

The Valencia High girls soccer team lost a heartbreaking District 6-4A match in Gallup against Miyamura on Tuesday, 1-0. Thursday, the Lady Jaguars got back on the bus and went to Kirtland Central for a non-district match, which they won, 3-0.

The Lady Jaguars, who at 6-3 overall and 1-1 in 6-4A, are set to resume District 6-4A play with a 1 p.m. match at Grants on Saturday. They also have a 4 p.m. match at Belen on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and the Jags have never beaten the Lady Eagles in four District 6-4A meetings.

At Miyamura, the Jags had an outstanding second half, and VHS coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard said the ball touched “every part of the goal but the net.”

Miyamura senior Ariana Arentino scored the match’s only goal in the first half. She was also credited with six of her team’s 10 shots.

Patriot goalkeeper Aubrey Orr was credited with 12 saves.

“We did everything we practiced,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “In the second half, we looked really good. Their goal happened when we just didn’t mark up, and we fixed it, and it didn’t happen again.”

Chavez-Burkhard said there were some issues with the long trip in general. She said the team left late due to a bus communication snag, and the Jags only arrived in Gallup in time for a short warm-up. Some of her players become carsick, and the shortened warm-up on the artificial-turf field didn’t help.

The 1-0 final score was a marked improvement from previous matches against Miyamura. Though the Jags have only scored one goal in the rivalry and are 0-7 against the Patriots all-time, Chavez-Burkhard is confident her team’s chances of winning the Oct. 13 rematch at VHS are as strong as ever.

For whatever confidence the Jags took from Tuesday’s loss, they must have gained infinitely belief in themselves with Thursday’s win over a quality 4A counterpart. The Jags ran past around the Lady Broncos (9-3), winning on the home field of a Kirtland team that has beaten Miyamura twice.

“We played a nice game, and really shut them down,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “They had a little bit of speed, and have some big girls. From having beat Miyamura, I thought they would be physical, and I was kind of surprised that they weren’t.”

Only five minutes into the match, the Jags were able to score off of a Jazirae Chavira corner kick. Chavira kicked the ball into Savannah Lucero, who got it to Ashley Rubio, who scored.

The 1-0 lead stood for nearly 70 minutes. With only nine minutes left in the match, Archuleta scored on what Chavez-Burkhard described as one of the team’s prettiest displays of teamwork this season.

Kaitlynn Craig worked to steal the ball from more than one Kirtland player. She got it to Chavira, whose pass was headed in for a goal by Archuleta.

With less than two minutes remaining in the contest and the Broncos desperate to score, Valencia added an insurance goal. Archuleta and Brittany Piro got the ball ahead to Samantha Kear, who scored to make it 3-0.

Chavez-Burkhard said her defense has really come together, and is staying in formation better. It helped that junior Miranda Kittredge got back on the field Thursday, after suffering head and knee injuries in a Sept. 12 match.

Piro played the first half in goal Thursday, with Haley Baca taking over in the second half, per this season’s routine for VHS. The coach said Baca made some plays that took away breakaway Kirtland opportunities, even without having to make a save in those situations.

Kirtland won 7-2 at Belen earlier this season, while BHS star midfielder Kaitlyn D’Arcangeli was out with an injury. The Broncos’ only other losses were to Class 5A Alamogordo and to District 1-4A rival Aztec in a tournament.

Thursday’s win was Valencia’s first win on artificial turf since a Sept. 4, 2010 victory at Capital High in Santa Fe.

While some 6-4A matches will likely be tough, the way the Jags played this week gives Chavez-Burkhard a lot of optimism.

“We’re ready to play Miyamura now,” she said.


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