It was a glorious night for La Cueva soccer on Friday.
The Bears swept the titles of the Albuquerque Metro Championships at the APS Complex, with the boys defeating Rio Rancho and the girls beating Albuquerque Academy.
BOYS: The Bears continued their impressive early surge this season, edging the Rams 2-1 in the final.
Emari Camu staked La Cueva to a lead in the opening 20 minutes, and it stayed that way until a foul call on the Rams — which they vehemently disagreed with, as it occurred right on the edge of the 18-yard box — led to a penalty kick for the Bears.
At the line, it was Gabriel Ramirez-Orona who finished, supplying La Cueva with a 2-0 lead.
Rio Rancho’s goal was just the second given up by La Cueva this season. Bears goalkeeper Mateo Nobrega saved an initial penalty kick against the Rams’ Sean Meserve, but the ball bounced right back to Meserve, who finished the rebound to cut the La Cueva lead to 2-1.
But the Bears preserved the lead and won metros for the first time in six years.
La Cueva coach Easy Jimenez said it was a strong first half that helped carry the night.
“If we can put two halves like that together, we’re gonna be dangerous throughout the whole year,” he said. His team already has high-profile wins over Cleveland, Atrisco Heritage and Albuquerque Academy.
“Our whole entire team played really well and I feel like we can win state this year,” Nobrega said.
This sentiment already had been made public by Jimenez.
“It brings our spirits up and makes us want to win it more,” Nobrega said.
GIRLS: La Cueva’s longtime coach, Amber Ashcraft, laughed a little as she was looking at the giant trophy that goes with winning metros with a 3-1 victory over the Chargers.
After all, she said, it had been 15 years since La Cueva won this tournament. That was the first year of this event.
“(For years),” Ashcraft said, “we really didn’t want to win it, because there was a curse.”
The curse to which she refers — unofficial, of course — was that any girls team that won the metro tournament would not win state.
But Cibola pulled off that double a couple of years ago.
“So we’re OK to win it now,” Ashcraft said.
Senior Tessa Updegraff had a first-half hat trick for the Bears.
“Zero, I think,” she said with a laugh, when asked how many hat tricks she had recorded in a single half. “One now.”
Updegraff said La Cueva was encouraged after taking down Hope Christian on Wednesday in the semifinals.
“We knew that would propel us into today,” she said.
Said Ashcraft, “I think the girls have had a good camaraderie with each other, and we’re trying to promote that as much as possible.”
NOTE: Academy boys coach Laney Kolek collected her 200th career victory on Friday as the Chargers beat Albuquerque High in the consolation bracket.