ALBUQUERQUE – Storm senior Ella Lent-Koop won a brief showdown with Albuquerque Academy goalkeeper Cara Anderson, scoring in the 100th minute to propel the Storm to a 2-1 double-overtime victory in the finals of the Academy Invitational at Richard Harper Memorial Field Saturday morning. Cleveland (9-1) was seconds away from having its fate decided in a shootout.
“They had one shot on goal the whole game,” happy Storm coach Greg Rusk said of the host Chargers (6-2). “Their goalkeeper (Cara Anderson) saved them five or six times.”
A Storm own goal gave Academy a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Sienna Salazar knocked in a rebound about three minutes later to tie the game.
To get to the championship game, the Storm handled Hobbs, 4-2, on Friday after a 6-1 rout of Farmington Thursday afternoon.
Rusk took time to state how grateful he was to have the Storm play those three games, facing teams they normally don’t have a chance to face.
Arissa C’de Baca had a hat trick in the victory over the FHS Scorpions, as she took passes from Kiana Jamerson and blasted both into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Not long after that, C’de Baca passed the ball to Jamerson, who made it 3-0. Taylor Williamson gave the Storm a 4-1 lead before halftime.
C’de Baca closed out her hat trick six minutes into the second half; Sienna Salazar arced a floating kick over the Scorpions’ goalie and high into the net with less than 10 minutes left to end the scoring.
In the semifinal victory on Friday, Hobbs was so generous that the final Storm tally was an “own goal.”
Lent-Koop notched the first two CHS goals, and after the Eagles scored, Salazar gave Cleveland a 3-1 lead at intermission. After the own goal, Hobbs closed out the scoring in the 74th minute – too little, too late.
Johnson went the distance in goal for the Storm.
Rusk’s team opens District 1-5A action at 6 on Sept. 21 against visiting Atrisco Heritage Academy, and the Storm have a non-district encounter at Los Alamos on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“We have some issues to resolve – the pace between our defensive line and our midfield line, how to handle that – and also help our forward line to not think it’s a track meet, and actually help develop space, rather than take away space,” he said. “Now, nobody’s going to understand that, but that’s all right.”
The Storm boys (4-3-3) have been playing in the Academy Invitational, except for the pandemic season of 2020, since the program began in 2009, winning it in 2016 and ’17.
It wasn’t about to happen this time around, when the Storm lost their second shootout of their last three games. (Cleveland lost an APS Metro semifinal to Rio Rancho in the same fashion.)
“That’s what we do,” quipped coach Shaun Gill. “We did the same thing last year.” He said he prefers 10-minute overtime sessions to shootouts, but, “They needed a winner to move on, so that’s all right.”
Dominic Aguilar scored both of the Storm’s goals in the first half, which ended in a tie at 2, and nobody scored in the second half.
He then led off the penalty-kick phase with a goal, but the first three Hilltoppers beat Storm goalkeeper Joaquin Armijo, taking a 3-1 lead after four players from each team had their shots, with the Storm freshman William McNamara’s shot ricocheting off the crossbar and cinching the win for the ’Toppers.
“It’s a 50-50 crapshoot,” Gill said of the shootout. “We had a really good second half. They didn’t cross midline more than four or five times. … We made that little (defensive) change, so I’m proud of the guys for that.
“We’re banged-up still,” he said, not worried about Armijo’s reaction and possible shot to his confidence after the recent losses via shootout.
“He bounces back,” Gill said. “He’s got a short memory. At the high school level, everybody makes mistake; have a short memory and move on. We got the next game – we can get ’em next time.”
He did: The Storm won their next two games handily, 4-1 over Sandia Prep on Friday and 4-0 Saturday over Piedra Vista in the fifth-place game.
Austin Clark Emmanuel Ruiz, Aguilar and Amir Fauzi scoring in the win over Sandia Prep – Ruiz and Aguilar on PKs. Ruiz, Ethan Hendricks, McNamara and Aguilar tallied goals in the shutout of the Panthers.
The Storm are at Bosque School Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m., then home Saturday at 11 a.m. to meet Santa Fe. The Storm’s District 1-5A opener is Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. vs. visiting Rio Rancho.
RIO RANCHO GIRLS
Three games remained at press time for the Rams (3-5), who claimed their third victory of the season on Sept. 12 at Capital High School in Santa Fe.
Lauryn Machuzak scored twice, and Bella Poccia and added solo tallies in the 4-0 shutout of the Jaguars.
“We have been improving and need to work on being consistent,” said coach Michael Gonzales, the team’s third coach in as many seasons.
The Rams celebrated First Responders Night in Rio Rancho Stadium Tuesday (Sept. 19) vs. Los Alamos. They’re at Piedra Vista today (Sept. 21) and home Monday at 6 p.m. to meet St. Pius X, a game originally on the schedule for Sept. 23, at 6 p.m., and two days later, Sept. 27, for their 1-5A opener vs. visiting Cleveland.
RIO RANCHO BOYS
In seven of their nine games to date, the Rams (6-2-1) have surrendered only one goal.
Such was the case last week, with Aaron Meserve scoring twice on Sept. 12 in a 2-1 victory over Capital, followed by a 3-1 win over visiting Roswell on Saturday. (A game with Albuquerque High slated for Sept. 14 was canceled by bad weather.)
Douglas Cutshall Caden Jones and Meserve scored for the Rams vs. the Coyotes.
The Rams can breathe easier for a while, with a game at Los Alamos on Tuesday (Sept. 19), their only action until their District 1-5A opener set for Wednesday, Sept. 27, vs. visiting Cleveland, slated to start at 6 p.m.
In their meeting at the recent APS Metro tournament’s semifinals, the Rams and Storm dueled to a 1-1 draw, from which the Rams moved into the championship game after emerging from the penalty-kick shootout.