Boys soccer: Jags capture double-overtime win over Eagles

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Belen led for most of the game, but when it came to the last 12 minutes, Valencia showed more desire in Saturday’s 3-2 double-overtime win on the Eagle’s home pitch.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: COUNTY RIVALS Diego Ramirez of Valencia, left, and Manuel Parra of Belen go for the ball in Saturday’s match. Valencia won in double overtime on an Alan Ramirez goal; the playoff seedings will be announced Sunday.

The win solidified the District 6-4A standings with just one game left in district play for both teams.

Valencia (10-7, 5-4 in district after Saturday) was set to host Los Lunas (13-5, 8-1) on Tuesday in a game to be played after News-Bulletin press time.

Belen (5-13, 4-5) visited Grants in a game after press time on Tuesday, trying to hold on to fourth place in the district.

Miyamura (11-5, 6-3) has captured third, even if they lose and Valencia wins, due to two wins over the Jags this season. Los Lunas clinched the regular season title, and the automatic playoff berth, with the 3-2 win over the Patriots on Saturday.

Belen goaltender Michael Vialpando was fantastic in goal for the Eagles in Valencia’s win Saturday.

He stopped six hard shots that would have scored on many high school keepers.

But the one questionable stop attempt came in the 92nd minute with a 2-2 game on the line. He raced out to stop Saul Frayre’s pass into the penalty box just to the right of the goal box. In front of Alan Ramirez, Vialpando laid out and got his hands on the ball before Ramirez could strike it toward the goal.

The ball slipped under his hands, dribbling out to his left. Ramirez drove the ball into the net with Vialpando helpless on the ground.

“It was an amazing feeling,” said an elated Ramirez following the emotional win.

He then remembered the team’s former manager Juana Ortega, who died tragically in a car wreck last soccer season. Ortega would have been a senior this year.

“This game was dedicated to Juana. This game was for her,” he said, fighting tears.

“Saul passed me the ball and I saw the goalie coming at me. I just did a little chip to the side, and it went in,” said Ramirez.

Belen jumped out to a 1-0 first-half lead, thanks to some tough midline defense and a goal from Jesse Monge in the 21st minute.

Valencia scored on a shot from Diego Ramirez, assisted by Joel Molina, at the 8:23 mark of the second half.

But the tie only stood for a few seconds. Kevin Worley put the ball in play from the midline after the goal and Chris Lovato slammed a long shot that bounced by the Valencia goaltender off the indirect kick.

Belen led 2-1.

It looked like the Eagles might pull the upset and they turned away attack after attack from the Jaguars.

But with just 10:04 left in regulation, Frayre took a pass from Diego Ramirez and threaded it between two Eagle defenders. Partial screened on the play, Vialpando could not get to the ball in time.

The goal tied the contest at 2-2 and sent the game to overtime.

“I was trying my best. I tried to score for my whole team. I went to my second wind. I was like, this is my goal. I had to score for my whole team,” said Frayre of the game-saving goal.

Valencia coach Eric Gutierrez praised his team’s moxie after the win.

“We just wanted it more. We have not been playing our best lately, and it has been getting on our shoulders,” said Gutierrez. “It was good to get this win because I feel that it is a lot of weight off of our shoulders.”

But he recognized the rebuilding his county rival had accomplished this year after a state title appearance in the last two years.

“Belen has come a long way. I didn’t expect for them to be this hard,” Gutierrez said. “They have come a long, long way, and played great soccer here.

“They lost a lot of great players, but the heart is still there. They pushed it very hard, and that is all that counts.”

Belen first-year coach Danny Krow was emotional after the game, the last home contest for Antonio Baca, Worley and Chance Cannon.

“It is hard for me,” said Krow. “With the three seniors we have on this team, I just wish we could have gone out of here with a win.

“It has been great. I love these kids. I have been around them since AYSO. It is hard for me to lose those kids (to graduation). It will be something that takes effect on me for the rest of my life, coaching these kids, for sure.”

He reassured his sophomore goaltender after the match.

“Michael is great,” said Krow of the extreme effort put forth by the Eagle keeper. “He made a couple of mental mistakes but he is young. But he played an excellent game against Valencia.”


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