Tiger boys humble Eagles; have district crown in sight

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

Tuesday’s boys soccer match gave the home team and chance to show off some of its offensive skills and depth. It gave the visitors a starting point, from which to grow.

The veteran Los Lunas Tigers ran completely roughshod over the extremely young Belen Eagles on Tuesday, needed only 47 minutes of match time to win 10-0 by mercy rule.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: German Rojero of the Los Lunas High boys soccer team, left, tries to get the ball away from Alejandro Ramirez of Belen in Tuesday’s match. The host Tigers beat the young Belen team, 10-0, in just 47 minutes of action, and both teams have District 6-4A road matches set for Saturday.

The win made the Tigers 11-4 overall and 6-0 in District 6-4A, and pushed the Tigers closer to clinching their first district title in program history. The loss dropped Belen to 3-13 and 2-4.

Saturday, both teams are set to play 11 a.m. District 6-4A road matches, with the Tigers heading to Grants and Belen playing against Miyamura in Gallup. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Belen hosts Miyamura and the Tigers are set to play at Gallup.

In the Belen match, the Tigers did mostly want they wanted, possessing the ball and driving in for many uncontested shots. Sophomore Alejandro Garcia scored five times and broke a school scoring record in the process. He has 31 goals and eight assists already this season; Alex Plasencia had 27 goals one year in the mid-2000s.

“We didn’t play to our ability,” said Belen coach Daniel Krow. “It’s tough with this team, because sometimes we show up, and sometimes we don’t. It just wasn’t nearly enough.”

The Eagles got somewhat of an attack going at times, especially on the right side of the Los Lunas defense, but never even registered a shot on goal. The Tigers took the ball away and drove at will on Eagle sophomore goalkeeper Michael Vialpando, scoring on 10 of their 13 shots that were on frame.

The Tigers led 7-0 at the half, scoring in the eighth, ninth, 13th, 24th, 27th, 29th and 38th minutes. Garcia had the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth goals of the half, with Jesus Villa and Aurelio Ruiz getting the others.

LLHS coach Eliseo Aguirre allowed his bench to get some playing time, and moved some starters to different positions. He moved sweeper Gustavo Muñoz to a right forward spot, and the senior streaked around a defender to score in the first minute of the second half.

Said Aguilera scored two minutes later, and when Villa added his second goal of the day in the 47th minute, the match ended by mercy rule.

“Defensive guys work so hard, so when you are able to let them play up front, you got to do it,” said Aguirre. “And Gustavo is a heck of an offensive player.” Los Lunas can clinch the district crown with a combination of two more victories and two Miyamura defeats. The Tigers might be able to clinch the title in front of the home crowd when Miyamura comes to LLHS next Saturday, Oct. 20.

Despite the Tigers winning some of their recent matches by lopsided scores, Aguirre is doing all he can to help the team’s seven seniors lead a disciplined, talented squad into the postseason. He benched sophomore goalkeeper Dylan Romero after a brief, terse exchange at the start of the second half.

“Dylan is one of the players who is going to be there at the end,” said Aguirre. “He and others work hard at practice. We just have to keep preparing, and get better on the things we’ve been working on.”

For the Eagles, who have 14 players on their roster who are sophomores or younger, the growing pains are rough. Belen athletes made a few plays against bigger, faster Tiger players Tuesday, but the BHS defense fell apart again and again.

After Tuesday’s Miyamura mach, Belen only has two more matches left on the schedule. The Eagles host Valencia on Saturday, Oct. 20 and travel to Grants on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

In Tuesday’s loss, some of the LLHS goals happened on plays where a Tiger player was all alone near the goal, waiting for a pass. BHS freshman and team captain Chris Lovato was visibly upset after the loss.

“Chris has a very strong want to win,” said Krow, the Eagles’ first-year coach. “There may be guys on the team who don’t have the same want, and it can get frustrating.”


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