Lady Eagles No. 8, Lady Jags No. 11 in 4A tournament

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Neither the Belen nor Valencia high school girls soccer teams are content with the way the 2011-12 season ended.

Both teams will have the chance to extend their seasons at least one match further in 2012-13. The Lady Eagles and Lady Jaguars each made the playoffs as at-large selections, with Belen earning a No. 8 seed and Valencia drawing No. 11.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia goalkeeper Haley Baca catches a ball in a recent match in front of Felisha Silva of Belen, right, and VHS defender Clara Sims. Both teams are set to play first-round state tournament matches at 1 p.m. Saturday, with Valencia traveling to Kirtland Central, and Belen hosting Santa Teresa.

Both teams will play first-round matches at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles (11-8), who placed second in District 6-4A, will host No. 9 Santa Teresa, while Valencia plays at No. 6 Kirtland Central.

“We know we want to play better this time,” said Belen coach Wilfred Carrasco, whose team lost 3-1 to Roswell at home in last year’s first round. “It’s sort of like a new season, and we’ve got to be firing on all cylinders this time. If we possess the ball, we can dictate how the match goes.”

This weekend’s first-round winners move on to the quarterfinals at the APS Soccer Complex on Thursday, Nov. 8.

The winner of the Belen-Santa Teresa matchup moves on to face No. 1 Albuquerque Academy. Carrasco said his team is going to practice this week as if it’s about to face Academy, not because the Eagles are looking past Santa Teresa, but because he wants his team to play as if all opponents are the No. 1 state tourney seed.

Santa Teresa (13-6-1), went undefeated in District 3-5A to become the champion there. The Desert Warriors have no common opponents with Belen, but split a pair of matches with Roswell High, which lost to the Eagles’ District 6-4A rival, Los Lunas.

Belen has seven seniors on its roster, but only three — leading scorer Kaitlyn D’Arcangeli, defender Brandy Ortega and versatile midfielder/defender Crystal Smith — played much varsity before this year.

Valencia had to travel last year, losing 3-0 in the first round at Aztec. Fittingly, the Jaguars (12-6) would play No. 3 Aztec again in the Nov. 8 quarterfinals if they can win at Kirtland Central for the second time this season.

Valencia, the third-place team from 6-4A, won 3-0 at Kirtland on Sept. 27.

“Our defense was really on, on that day,” said VHS coach Kimberly Chavez-Burkhard. “Everyone worked well together, and they had a decent crowd for that match, too.”

The Jaguars scored early in the Sept. 27 win at Kirtland, then added a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes. The match against the Broncos (14-6), the runners-up to Aztec in District 1-4A, was played on the artificial turf of the school’s football stadium.

Valencia has seven seniors who are hoping to go at least as far as the quarterfinals in their final season. Norene Archuleta, Kaitlyn Craig, Brittany Piro, Jazirae Chavira, Marisa Lopez and Vanessa Sanchez are all three-year members of the varsity, and Samantha Kear is a senior as well.

“This team is pumped,” said Chavez-Burkhard.


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