VHS boys' comeback at Grants falls short

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If the Valencia High boys soccer team is going to stay in the race for the District 6-4A championship, the Jaguars will probably need to find ways to win one-goal decisions.

Saturday's 3-2 loss at Grants made the Jaguars 5-5 overall and 1-2 in 6-4A. The loss happened on Grants' choppy football stadium field, and though the Jags rallied from a 3-0 deficit to score twice late in the match, they left GHS with their second one-goal loss in four days.

The Jags, who lost 3-2 against Miyamura in Gallup last week, were set to host Belen after News-Bulletin press time Tuesday. Valencia is set to play at Los Lunas at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The field conditions at Grants, according to VHS coach Eric Gutierrez, have been an issue in several 6-4A matches in recent years.

"The field didn't help much at all," said Gutierrez. "The field was actually better this year in the way that there was more grass, but still has many patches where grass does not exist, and where deep holes appear around the field."

The field is also crowned in the middle, making it tough to see from sideline to sideline. But the Jaguars were able to generate some chances — they simply couldn't score.

"The game for us went uneasy," said Gutierrez. "We did everything we could, but just could not get the ball behind the net."

Grants (5-4, 1-1) took a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal by Cotis Hooks. No one would score again until the Pirates were awarded a penalty kick in the 60th minute, which Benjamin Sarracino put past Valencia's Jose Gonzalez for a 2-0 Grants advantage.

The Pirates scored again about two minutes later, but Valencia's Alan Ramirez scored on a breakaway a minute after that to pull VHS to within 3-1. Gavin Sharpe of the Jaguars made it 3-2 by scoring with about seven minutes left in the contest, but the visitors could not tie it up before time expired.

The Jags outshot the Pirates, 12-2, and had more corner kicks in the match.

"What I noticed from Grants was that they wanted to be out there on the field," said Gutierrez. "And even though they didn't play excellent, they managed to make the best of the opportunities they were given."

Gutierrez sat out last week's win over Del Norte due to a red card he received in the loss at Miyamura.

"The refs seemed fair this time around (at Grants), although they did call many, many fouls on us that I believe where soft fouls," said the coach.

Gutierrez said the call that led to Sarracino's penalty kick was "questionable."

Saturday, the Jags take on a Los Lunas team that was set to play at Miyamura late Tuesday. Valencia split two intense matches with LLHS last year, with the home team winning handily both times.


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