Tiger boys edge Miyamura; clinch their first district title

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After more than 30 years of boys soccer, Los Lunas High can finally boast of a district championship.

News-Bulletin file photo: Los Lunas senior Martin Saenz leaps over a Gallup player in a recent match. The Tigers clinched the first district title in program history with a 2-1 home win over Miyamura, and play a non-district match at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Bosque Prep to conclude the regular season.

However, if the Tigers are going to do any boasting, they had better do it quick; there is immediate work ahead. The Tigers clinched the District 6-4A title Saturday with a 2-1 home win over Miyamura, and were set to conclude district play with a match at Valencia High after News-Bulletin press time Tuesday.

Los Lunas is scheduled to play a Friday non-district match at 4:30 p.m. at Bosque Prep. Then, the Tigers await playoff seedings, to be announced Sunday.

The win over Miyamura made the Tigers 13-5 overall and 8-1 in District 6-4A.

“We are finally getting our practices to translate into what we do in matches,” said Eliseo Aguirre, the Tigers’ coach since 1999. “Knowing we’re in the playoffs, we can relax and just go out Friday to score and win, and hopefully get a better seed.”

Miyamura (11-6, 6-3) helped the Tigers out Saturday. One of the Patriot defenders accidentally knocked in a Martin Saenz cross in the 11th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 edge in their Senior-Day match.

The Patriots tied the match about 20 minutes later when a Miyamura player was taken down in the penalty box. Aguirre said it was “a good call, because our player’s hands were definitely on their player.”

Alex Gutierrez put in the penalty kick for the Patriots. The score wouldn’t change until the 57th minute, when Jesus Villa scored off a Gustavo Muñoz corner kick for what would hold up as the Tigers’ winning goal.

“I would say Miyamura didn’t have any serious scoring opportunities in the last 22 minutes or so,” said Aguirre. “We did a good job of getting back on defense, and getting in position.”

Los Lunas goalkeeper Dylan Romero said it was a physical match, but with a district championship in sight, the Tigers were able to keep their composure.

“There was a lot of pushing, but we wanted it more,” said Romero. “We were happy when we found out Belen beat them (last week), because it meant we could clinch by winning. I’m proud that we did this, and I’m happy for the seniors, and for my chance to help the team.”

Romero had four saves in Saturday’s match.

The first round of the state playoffs involves Class 4A’s No. 9 through 12 seeds playing at the No. 5 through 8 seeds on Nov. 2 or 3, with the top four teams getting a bye until the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship match are set for Nov. 8, 9 and 10, respectively, at the APS Soccer Complex on Albuquerque’s west side.

Romero is hoping the Tigers can go further than their first-round playoff departures in 2008 or 2010 — and perhaps as far as the state championship they won in 1983.

“We just have to play to our ability,” said the sophomore goalkeeper. “We just have to do the little things well — the things we work on in practice.”


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