Nine Tiger boys soccer players are all-state

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After so many breakthrough successes this year, it wasn’t surprising that the Los Lunas boys soccer team took home many post-season awards.

News-Bulletin file photo: Alejandro Garcia, of Los Lunas, right, was named the District 6-4A Player of the Year and made the Class 4A All-State first team as a sophomore. Garcia was one of nine Tigers to earn all-state honors.

However, the quantity of all-state honors may have been a pleasant surprise to some.

Nine Los Lunas players received all-state honors, as chosen by Class 4A coaches, for their contributions to the Tigers’ landmark season. The Tigers went 15-7 overall, reaching the state quarterfinals for the first time in many years, and their 9-1 mark in District 6-4A matches gave LLHS its first district championship in team history.

After the season, Eliseo Aguirre, the team’s coach for the past 14 seasons, departed LLHS to take over as the Valencia High athletic coordinator. Los Lunas Schools athletic coordinator Wilson Holland said a search will begin this month for Aguirre’s replacement.

Aguirre’s former team will lose seven seniors to graduation, and five of them were all-state this year. However, there are some outstanding juniors — and a loaded sophomore class, which includes District 6-4A Player of the Year and first-team all-state honoree Alejandro Garcia.

“Alejandro has remarkable athleticism,” said Aguirre. “He makes good players better, and he makes players trust each other more. A big key will be keeping his composure; he wasn’t used to being man-marked before this season.”

Garcia led 4A with 39 goals and 10 assists, for a total of 88 points.

The other Tiger to make the all-state first team in 4A was senior sweeper Gustavo Muñoz. The multi-talented Muñoz used his outstanding field awareness to be an effective sweeper, blasting the ball away and ruining opposing attacks, and he took most of the team’s set kicks, such as corner, free, goal and penalty kicks.

“Gustavo helped shut down so many teams,” said Aguirre. “I am very proud of him.”

Aguirre even used Muñoz up front in some situations, taking advantage of his speed, and he had three gals and 12 assists. The senior was also a regular placekicker on the Tiger football team, making a 41-yard field goal in a game against St. Pius.

A pair of Tiger senior midfielders and team captains, Said Aguilera and Martin Saenz, made the all-state second team. Aguilera had 10 goals and 11 assists, while Saenz added six goals and 14 assists.

“Said moved down here before his junior year, and he and Martin worked very hard,” said Aguirre. “Martin led us in assists, and he even played when hurt.”

The all-state honorable-mention Tigers were a pair of sophomores, midfielder German Rojero and goalkeeper Dylan Romero, and seniors Jesus Villa, a midfielder, and David Perez and Aaron Sais, who played defense.

Rojero and Perez earned his all-state honors despite being only honorable-mention in the District 6-4A awards.

“German played his position very well,” said Aguirre. “David made remarkable improvements as our stopper.”

Romero made some spectacular saves, especially toward the end of the season. According to nmsoccer.com, the sophomore goalkeeper was fifth in 4A in goals-against average, at 1.387.

“With Dylan, the talent is there,” said the coach. “He’ll get even better as he learns to control his emotions better.”

Sais was a two-year starter who helped anchor the Tiger defense.

“I felt Aaron should have been on the (all-state) second team,” said Aguirre regarding the voting, which includes all Class 4A coaches. “He really worked hard, especially on his speed.”

Villa, another multi-year starter, brought senior leadership to the Tiger midfield.

“Jesus stabilized us, and started our offense,” said Aguirre about Villa, one of his captains. “He’s not the fastest guy, but he settled things down. He has both skills and smarts.”

All eight of the all-state Tigers were also honored at the district level.

Garcia, Saenz, Aguilera, Villa, Muñoz and Sais were named to 6-4A first team by the district’s other five coaches. Coaches cannot vote for their own players.

The 6-4A second team included Romero, while the honorable mention squad featured Perez and Rojero.


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