RIO RANCHO – There will be more, you better believe.
On the evening of Oct. 25, the Cleveland High School girls’ soccer team won the first district championship trophy for a city team, as the Storm (19-1, 8-0 in 1-5A) posted its ninth shutout of the season, 1-0, over visiting Volcano Vista (12-6, 5-2).
It was the 14th consecutive victory for Cleveland, which also won district titles in 2017, ’18 and ’22, although this is the first time the Storm ran the table.
Watch for future fall 2023 district titles in the coming weeks, most likely by two cross country teams and a football team, which could come as early as Friday night (Oct. 27).
Barring any underhanded schemes, it should have guaranteed the Storm to top seed for next week’s state tournament, which begins Tuesday, Oct. 31, with the Storm playing in a quarterfinal contest on their pitch Nov. 3 or 4.
The Class 5A soccer brackets are slated to be revealed Sunday by the New Mexico Activities Association on its website (nmact.org).
The Storm hope to be in their third championship game on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the UNM soccer stadium (time TBA). The Storm lost the 2017 title tilt to La Cueva at the Santa Ana soccer complex and fell to Eldorado after a shootout last November at Lightning Bolt Stadium.
Cleveland 1, Volcano Vista 0: Angeline Montoya scored in the game’s fifth minute on a chilly evening, with Taylor Williamson credited with an assist.
Goalkeeper Madison Johnson rose to the task with four saves, with the Hawks’ best threats coming in the first half, which coach Greg Rusk described as “a 10-minute spurt.”.
As for the eight or nine days before his team’s next game, Rusk said, “A rest always helps in the sense of the little nicks and injuries we have going on.
“As in most sports, you get into a rhythm– a game every three, four days – and now it’s gonna be a little longer than that,” he said. “We’ll look forward to Selection Sunday and see how they rated us. Hopefully, we’re going to be No. 1 or No. 2.
“In all honestly, that Volcano team is one of the top-four teams in the state,” he added. “This (game) was extremely difficult, so they’ve been improving every game, and they’re going to be a handful for whoever sees them at state – and, hopefully, we don’t see them for a fourth time.”
Cleveland beat the Hawks (12-6, 5-2) 1-0 in the APS Metro Silver Bracket championship game at the APS soccer complex on Sept. 7, and got past the Hawks at VVHS, 3-1, on Oct. 7.
As has been the theme all season, the Storm have a stellar defense, and Rusk credited senior Rylie Pengelly – Sports Primo’s Player of the Gema – for leading the D.
“Everybody always talks about the goal-scorers,” he said. “The unsung heroes of our team are our three defenders and one of our midfielders, who is always everywhere – that is Taylor. We have a forward (Sloane Sinnott) who is playing defense, and she is doing a fabulous job back there.”
Rusk said he has concerns for a handful of teams the Storm might face at state: “We’ve played Eldorado, so we’re familiar with each other. I have not seen La Cueva, I have not seen Las Cruces, I have not seen Albuquerque High, so we don’t know what we’re going to be facing,” he said. “Most of the year, we concentrate on what we do instead of what the other team does, and we make small adjustments (along the way), but if we play the way we are supposed to play, then we are a very difficult team to play against.”
Three others played Wednesday
The Cleveland High School boys’ team played at Volcano Vista the evening of Oct. 25, and came out on the short end of a 3-2 score in overtime.
Dominic Aguilar scored twice for the Storm10-7-3, 4-4) in their regular-season finale.
Ranked eighth in the latest MaxPreps 5A rankings for the state, if the NMAA selection process works out that way, CHS would host a first-round game on Tuesday.
Rio Rancho boys 6, Cibola 0: The Rams (10-6-2, 3-3-1) shut out the last-place visiting Cougars Wednesday.
That left the No. 7 Rams with one game to play. It’s Saturday at the APS soccer complex, where they meet Atrisco Heritage Academy (14-4, 6-1) at 11 a.m.
Cibola girls 4, Rio Rancho 1: The Rams girls (5-13-1, 2-5) were ambushed at Cibola Wednesday evening, after having defeated the Cougars 1-0 in their first meeting.
That leaves the Rams in fourth place of 1-5A as they head into their Senior Day game Saturday with visiting last-place Atrisco Heritage Academy at 11 a.m.
The Rams are expected to be left out of the 12-team state bracket for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the past six seasons.