Lady Jags find OT magic to beat LLHS

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For the second time in less than a week, the Valencia girls soccer team found itself in an overtime battle with a county rival.

This time, Jaguar eighth-grader Savannah Lucero made sure it went the Jaguars’ way, and she scored on a long kick to ice a 3-2 win over Los Lunas just 40 seconds into the extra frame.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: PhysicaL Play, like this battle between Valencia’s Kaitlyn Craig, right, and Los Lunas’ Ashlen Holt, left, marked a close game won in overtime by the Jaguars, 3-2. The Jags host Miyamura Saturday in a key District 6-4A match and Los Lunas travels to Grants to try and keep its playoff hopes alive.

Los Lunas (6-7, 2-3 in District 6-4A after Saturday) was set to continue its string of away games by visiting Belen on Tuesday in a game that was to kick off after News-Bulletin press time. The Tigers visit Grants at 11 a.m. on Saturday and have two trips to Gallup next week to face Gallup High and Miyamura.

Valencia (7-5, 3-2) was to hosted Gallup on Tuesday, and has a big match against Miyamura (9-6, 5-0) at VHS at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Against Los Lunas, Lucero hit the match-winner from nearly midfield that just flew over the outstretched arms of Los Lunas goaltender Samantha Savedra.

“I called for it, and I thought I had a good shot,” said the humble eighth-grader.

Valencia senior Kaitlyn Craig scored the tying goal in the 44th minute, snaking the ball out of the air, about 25 feet away, straight in front of the goal and nailed a shot to the back of the net. “I dribbled through about three people,” said Craig. “I shot from kind of far away and it went in.”

Belen took Valencia to two overtimes last Saturday, winning 2-1. When asked if so many overtime matches are rough for the team, Craig was quick with the response.

“No, because our coach runs us a lot,” she said smiling.

“It just makes us more aggressive,” added Lucero.

“It prepares us for the next game, because we know that we have to go hard from the start. We don’t need to aim for a double-overtime. Let’s get it done right away,” said Craig.

Jag coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard was happier this week getting the close win.

“From the beginning, the girls have always played hard against Los Lunas,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “Against Belen, for some reason, they don’t. Los Lunas makes us play better. We started out slow, like we have almost every game.”

Samantha Lucero put the Tigers on top midway through the first half. She scored on a rebound shot at the 20:30 mark.

Valencia tied it right before halftime on Alicia Carabajal’s goal right in front of the goal box.

Samantha Lucero got her second goal only a minute into the second half to give the Tigers a 2-1 edge. Los Lunas did not have another shot on gaol the rest of the match.

“In the first half we did a very good of job of playing our pace and doing everything we wanted to do. Valencia was first to the ball in the second half. It showed in the possessions,” said Los Lunas coach James Torres.

Los Lunas has some ground to make up. In fourth place after the first round of district play, the Tigers will have to win on the road to be in a position to make the Class 4A playoffs.

“It’s always tough when you play in Grants,” Torres said. “It is on a football field, so the dimensions are a little narrower. The middle of it is pretty torn up, like a lot of football fields are, and it has a pretty good crown on it. The ball likes to take off and do some funny things.”

Valencia lost a close 1-0 decision to Miyamura in Gallup, and are eagerly awaiting the district leaders’ visit to VHS.

“They want Miyamura bad,” said Chavez-Burkhard. “It was one of the best games that we have played this year. For some reason, we rise up to level when we play a good team. I am looking forward to seeing my team play hard.”


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