Local teams deal with foes, weather in week’s matches

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By Kenn Rodriguez

Last week’s rains played a role in the outcome of many matches played by Valencia County high school soccer teams, as they closed their string of pre-district matches.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS FORWARD Samantha Lucero outmaneuvers Albuquerque Highland goalkeeper Molly Kanagy in the Tigers’ 3-2 extra-time loss to the Hornets Thursday.

The Valencia girls ran their record to 6-2 this past week with wins over three Albuquerque area schools. The Jaguars defeated host Del Norte 4-3 in extra time in rain-soaked conditions on Tuesday, Sept. 10, then returned home to shut out Manzano 2-0 at home on Friday. Valencia capped the week with a 2-1 win over Valley on Tuesday.

Freshman Bryana Rubio finished the week with two goals and three assists and senior goalkeeper Haley Baca, currently the third best goalie in Class 4A, allowing an average of .6468 goals per game, tallied 16 combined saves against the Knights and Monarchs.

Against Valley, Valencia gave up an early goal on a mistake but came back with a pair of second-half goals.

“I was really impressed with them,” said coach Kimberly Chavez. “We knew the game would be hard but came back on them.

Chavez said physical play in last week’s matches will prepare them for district season, which begins Saturday for VHS at Gallup Miyamura.

Having a tough early season schedule to prepare for is also something the Belen girls have dealt with. The Eagles finished the week going 2-1 against Metro-area competition and stand 5-3 on the season after a 6-0 loss to Rio Rancho on Tuesday, Sept. 10, a 2-1 win at Del Norte on Saturday and a 3-2 extra-time win over Rio Grande at home Tuesday afternoon.

Senior ‘keeper Maria Lupita Salinas collected 14 saves for the week, including six in the loss to the Rams.

Belen wraps up pre-district play today with a match against Socorro then hosts Gallup on Saturday to start its District 6-4A slate.

The Los Lunas girls endured a tough week, losing three matches to quality opponents. The Tigers fell to Cibola 9-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 10, playing on the slick artificial turf at the APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque. They lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to visiting Highland in extra time on Thursday. LLHS then traveled to Albuquerque and fell 4-0 to Hope Christian, the No. 2 team in Class A-3A, last week.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA HIGH GOALKEEPER Jose “Oso” Gonzalez (00) is hugged by teammate Edgar Rivas (4) after saving three penalty kicks in the Jaguars’ 2-1 win in extra time over Albuquerque Del Norte Saturday.

Against Highland, the Tigers fell behind early and trailed 2-1 at halftime but put constant pressure on the Hornets in the second half, eventually finding the equalizer when junior Samantha Lucero found the back of the goal for a second time in the match.

Los Lunas (3-4) finishes up the early season against Del Norte today before beginning district play Saturday, hosting Grants.

Weather caused the cancellation of one match for Los Lunas High and caused problems in another match against Santa Fe, but the Tigers managed a pair of wins to finish up their pre-district slate.

After canceling their match against Albuquerque High on Tuesday, Sept. 10, due to heavy rains in Los Lunas. LLHS then traveled to Santa Fe on Thursday and overcame both the rainy conditions and slick artificial Field Turf at SFHS to beat the Demons 4-3. The Tigers ran their record to 6-2 on the season Tuesday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Del Norte in Albuquerque.

Sophomore Chris Lovato was a standout for Los Lunas in both games, scoring all four goals against Santa Fe while tallying an assist as well as the game-winner on a direct kick in the 32nd minute against the host Knights.

“We had a good week,” said coach Daniel Martinez. “We were very effective offensively.”

Junior goalkeeper Dylan Romero finished with 10 saves on the week, including six against Del Norte. Lovato is now in the top five in scoring in Class 4A with 27 points off 11 goals and five assists.

Los Lunas (6-2) starts its District 6-4A campaign Saturday, hosting Grants.

Valencia High dropped a 1-0 decision to Albuquerque West Mesa on Tuesday but back-up goalkeeper Jose “Oso” Gonzalez was the toast of the team following the Jags’ 2-1 extra-time victory at Del Norte Saturday.

Gonzalez stuffed three penalty kicks in the PK shootout to complete Valencia’s come-from-behind win over De Norte, which marred the game with its overtly physical play and 21 fouls whistled on the Knights.

“The refs were doing horrible today,” said coach Eric Gutierrez. “We even got a red card off a foul that wasn’t a foul. I was not happy with the game today. But we played well.”

Sloppy conditions contributed to the Jags having a tough go at Bernalillo on Thursday, where VHS overcame a 4-0 halftime deficit to claim a 5-4 win in extra time.

Valencia (5-4) starts district play Saturday at Gallup Miyamura.

Tough times continued for the Belen boys last week as the Eagles fell in their only match of the week, a 6-0 setback to Albuquerque Sandia at the APS Soccer Complex on Tuesday. The Eagles, now 1-5 on the season, were held scoreless and only pushed the Matadors goalkeeper to one save for the entire match. Belen plays today at Albuquerque Academy then plays Albuquerque West Mesa Friday at 3:30 p.m. in a match rescheduled from Saturday, Sept. 14.

Belen opens district play Saturday at home against Gallup High.