LLHS boys, BHS girls setting district pace

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The Belen Eagles girls and Los Lunas Tigers boys both passed key tests against county rivals this past week to remain undefeated in District 6-4A.

The Tigers and Jaguars could not agree on who scored the first goal of their match at Volunteer Field in Los Lunas on Tuesday, Oct. 2. But there was no question of who won as Los Lunas shut out Valencia 2-0.

Kenn Rodriguez- News-Bulletin photo: BELEN DEFENDERS Crystal Smith (2) and Arianna Valdez (19) try to corral Los Lunas forward ReAnna Torres during the Eagles 1-0 win over the Tigers at Eagle Field in Belen Saturday morning. As of Saturday, Belen led District 6-4A with a 5-0 record.

By the Tigers’ book, junior Alejandro Garcia scored the game-winning goal in the third minute off an assist from Angel Gonzales. But Valencia coach Eric Gutierrez said the goal was an own goal that came from a failed clearance by a Jaguar defender.

“Own goals in soccer are a rough thing,” said Los Lunas coach Daniel Martinez. “It was a deflection that went into the goal. It wasn’t necessarily an own goal. He clearly got the touch on it and it was going in regardless.”

Either way, the early goal set the tone for the rest of the match as the Tigers back four consistently blunted Valencia’s long-ball offense while getting the better of possession at the midfield to easily dictate the tempo of the match.

With the Jaguars pressing for an equalizer in the second half, the Tigers were able to find the goal in the 79th minute on a smart, swift shot by sophomore Chris Lovato deep in the Tigers’ attacking third of the field to end Valencia’s chances.

“These boys had it; it’s just that we lost focus and gave up a late goal,” said Gutierrez. “The game was 50-50 at all times. It was hard to say who was going to win. That last lapse in judgment cost us. When you play a great team, all they need is two minutes.”

Los Lunas out-shot the Jaguars 14-13 and Valencia earned three corner kicks to the Tigers’ one, which gives credence to Gutierrez’ claims. Los Lunas goalkeeper Dylan Romero had 10 saves in the match to Valencia keeper Jose “Oso” Gonzales’ three.

Los Lunas followed up their win over the Jags with an 8-2 home win over Belen that saw Lovato and Garcia combine to score seven goals to move the Tigers to 11-3 on the season and 5-0 in district.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: CHRIS LOVATO (10) of the Los Lunas boys soccer team battles with Valencia High’s Alan Ramirez (5) during the Tigers’ 2-0 win over the Jaguars on Tuesday, Oct. 2. As of Saturday, Lovato, a sophomore, was second in scoring in New Mexico’s Class 4A with 63 points off 27 goals and nine assists according to stats ompiled at www.nmsoccer.com.

The Eagles (2-10, 1-3) fell to Gallup Miyamura 7-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Freshman Roldolfo Gonzales scored the lone goal for Belen against the Patriots as the Eagles only managed two shots in the game.

Valencia (9-6, 3-2) lost 4-1 to Santa Fe High at home in a non district game on Thursday, Oct. 4, but rebounded to beat league foe Grants 2-1 in extra time at Valencia High on Saturday morning. Junior Andrew Snider scored the second half equalizer after the Pirates led 1-0 at halftime. Then the Jags won the penalty kick shootout 6-5 to claim the win.

Valencia traveled to play Miyamura Tuesday and will travel to Belen to play the Eagles this Saturday. B traveled to Gallup Tuesday while Los Lunas traveled to Grants. The Tigers host Gallup this Saturday.

Look for a recap of the week’s games in next week’s News-Bulletin.

At Eagle Field in Belen, the Eagles’ Alexis Begay scored just before halftime and BHS was able to neutralize the Tigers’ twin scoring threats, ReAnna Torres and Samantha Lucero for much of the game as Belen remained undefeated in league play and claimed its eighth straight victory.

Belen out-shot Los Lunas 16-10 and earned three corner kicks to the Tigers two as the Eagles defensive backfield and midfield consistently tied up Los Lunas’ ball movement and won possession again and again.

“Keep everything out of the middle, that’s our goal, and then go wide when we move up,” said senior captain Jadyn Casillas.

Fellow captain Arianna Valdez said the low-scoring game wasn’t a surprise.

“We always expect a tough match with Los Lunas,” Valdez said. “I think we, as a team, play better in the second half.”

Belen (11-3, 5-0) started the week with a 3-1 win at Miyamura on Tuesday, Oct. 2, as Begay scored a treble with three goals.

Los Lunas (7-6, 3-2) fell behind early and came up short in the comeback attempt, losing 3-2 at Valencia on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

LLHS coach James Torres said his team’s pair of one-goal losses on the week were “definitely tough.”

“I think our kids are pretty resilient,” he said after the loss to Belen. “We played pretty solid (today), we just had trouble in the final third of the field.”

Valencia (9-5, 2-3) followed up their win over the Tigers with a 7-0 rout of Grants on Saturday.

The Jaguars played at Miyamura on Tuesday and have a rematch with league leaders Belen at home this Saturday.

Belen traveled to Gallup on Tuesday while Los Lunas traveled to Grants on Tuesday before hosting Gallup on Saturday.

Look for a recap of the week’s games in next week’s News-Bulletin.