ALBUQUERQUE — Brayan Ramirez took it upon himself to help spark Cleveland’s slumping offense.

The CHS forward tallied three goals en route to a 3-1 Storm victory over St. Pius X in Thursday’s Albuquerque Academy Invitational soccer tournament opener.

“With everyone that I talked to, I felt that boost,” Ramirez said.

Cleveland scored just 12 team goals over seven matches entering Thursday’s contest, scoring more than one goal on just two prior occasions.

Ramirez, a junior, got Cleveland on the board late in the first half, scoring the opening goal on a penalty kick.

Cleveland’s Brayan Ramirez scores the first of his three goals on a penalty kick against St. Pius X during the opening round of the Albuquerque Academy Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.
(Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Although St. Pius X scored the equalizer early in the second half, Ramirez was just getting started.

He tacked on his second goal, firing a point-blank shot from about 20 yards out. Then he put the match away by scoring on a header with about seven minutes left in regulation.

“It was just a perfect ball,” Ramirez said of his header.

Cleveland had 17 shots on goal, including 10 from Ramirez.

“The whole season we’ve been missing that, just finishing… Offense-wise, we’re just having trouble putting it in the net,” Ramirez said.

He said he hopes those stronger scoring outputs keep “piling up” for the Storm entering the final stretch of the season.

The Albuquerque Academy Invitational will wrap up Friday and Saturday.

Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer