Lady Jaguars start slow again, but get win at Grants

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Maybe the Valencia High girls soccer team should simply pretend every match starts in the 21st minute.

The Lady Jaguars have had trouble with slow starts in several matches this season, including Saturday’s 4-0 win at Grants. The Jags didn’t seem to get the intensity going until about 20 minutes into the match, and while the sluggish beginning didn’t have much impact Saturday, coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard knows her team needs to start stronger against tougher District 6-4A teams.

News-Bulletin file photo: Valencia’s Ashley Rubio takes a shot in a recent match. The Lady Jaguars won 4-0 at Grants on Saturday, and are set to host Carlsbad at 4 p.m. Thursday and Los Lunas High at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Saturday’s win made the Jaguars 7-3 overall and 2-1 in 6-4A. Valencia was set to play at Belen on Tuesday after News-Bulletin press time, and will host Carlsbad for a 4 p.m. non-district match Thursday.

The Jags will also host Los Lunas High for an 11 a.m. district match Saturday.

“I want us to play the whole first half, but I’m happy we’re at least picking it up 20 minutes in,” said Chavez-Burkhard, regarding recent matches. “Once we get it started, we do well.”

Four of Saturday’s goals came within a nine-minute span of the first half. The Jaguars got two goals from Kaitlynn Craig and two from Norene Archuleta.

Craig’s first goal broke the ice in the 20th minute, with Brittany Piro crossing it in for the assist. Craig took a shot from just inside the 18-yard line.

“We’ve been trying to get players to do more of that — shooting from outside,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “We’re like, ‘Just take the shot, even if you’re far away.’”

Craig added another goal two minutes later, with Norene Archuleta assisting. Archuleta scored in the 26th and 29th minutes, heading the ball into the goal both times, with Jazirae Chavira assisting on each score.

The Jaguars had some chances the rest of the way, but didn’t score again. Chavez-Burkhard said most of the match was played in Grants’ end of the field.

“We had a few things like breakaway opportunities where we kicked the ball right to the goalie,” said the coach.

Haley Baca played the entire match in goal for the Jags, making two saves. Chavez-Burkhard had been using Piro in goal for the first half, but Saturday, the coach “had a feeling” Piro’s strong leg and senior leadership would be helpful at a wing position.

Tuesday’s scheduled match at Belen marked the seventh consecutive road match for Valencia.

“We’ve had some parents that have made the trips and supported us,” said the coach.

Saturday, they’ll host a Los Lunas team they beat twice last season, and will start the district rotation again when Gallup visits on Tuesday, Oct. 9.


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