Eagles fall in double overtime

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Even though the 2012-13 Belen High boys soccer team couldn't finish its schedule with a win, the Eagles have shown they can be competitive.

Tuesday's 4-3 double-overtime loss at Grants was probably the last stop for the Eagles, who are 5-15 overall and finished the District 6-4A schedule with a 4-6 record.

"I wish our record was 6-4 (in district)," Belen coach Danny Krow said. "We really wanted to bring home a win for the seniors."

Having just dropped an emotional double-overtime match to local rival Valencia last Saturday, the Eagles were forced to play almost 100 more minutes three days later, in Tuesday's presumptive finale. While the draining match ended in a Belen loss, it helped both teach and show the character of the Eagles, who rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to force the Pirates into overtime.

Grants was unable to play at Gallup last weekend, due to a marching-band event in Gallup, so the two teams played Wednesday, with Grants winning, 4-1. That made the Pirates 9-8 overall and 5-5 in district, so Grants places fourth in 6-4A, with the Eagles finishing fifth.

Tuesday's match was an intense, physical contest, and it almost got away from the Eagles early. Grants scored in the third minute of the match, and continued to apply pressure, so Belen was fortunate to escape the first half with only one goal being scored in the 40th minute.

The Eagles finally got on the board in the 58th minute when Chris Lovato scored on a direct kick from the right side, just outside the penalty box.

The Pirates went up 3-1 about two minutes later on a goal by Gustav Barranza. Lovato then put in a penalty kick in the 63rd minute to make it 3-2.

With only two minutes left in regulation, Lovato struck a third time. He took a pass from Erick Guerrero near midfield and raced into the Grants half of the pitch, shooting and scoring from just outside the six-yard line to tie the match.

Krow said the Eagles' sophomore goalkeeper, Michael Vialpando, had "a heck of a match," and had three match-saving saves in the first overtime. Vialpando made 20 total saves Tuesday.

However, when the Eagles were called for a handball in the penalty box, Krow decided to move Lovato, the Eagles' most athletic and versatile player, to goalkeeper. It paid off, as Lovato stopped a penalty kick, and he remained in goal throughout the first overtime.

Lovato moved back up front for the second extra session, but in the 96th minute, the Pirates again were awarded a penalty kick after BHS senior Antonio Baca was whistled for a takedown.

Lovato went into goal again, and even dove in the right direction, but couldn't stop the winning shot of Grants' Ben Sarracino.

Grants outshot Belen 25-20 in the offense-filled contest.

Baca, Kevin Worley and Chance Cannon are the Eagle seniors who won't be back next year. After losing about eight players academically from what had already been a young team, Krow is looking forward to seeing players benefit from varsity experience.

"I'd love to be back," said Krow of his hopes of returning to the helm. "The kids got down on themselves after some of our early losses, but by district, we were close to where we needed to be. They will be the most experienced ninth- and 10th-graders out there, next year."


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