ALBUQUERQUE — The Cleveland girls soccer team drew first blood on the scoreboard early in the second half, but couldn’t hold off a late run by La Cueva — falling 2-1 in Tuesday’s 5A bout at the APS Soccer Complex.

“It was rough. It was really a well-fought game that looked dead even and looked like was going to go into overtime. They took advantage of a tricky ball up the middle and put it in the back of the net,” Cleveland coach Gregory Rusk said. “One of their players got to (the ball) before we could cover.”

About two minutes into the second half, Cleveland forward Arissa C’de Baca launched a free kick from about 25 yards out for the opening goal, as the ball curved up and hit the upper-right corner of the net.

“Arissa, during warmups, took a direct kick from exactly that spot and missed the far-right corner by maybe six inches. So we just said, ‘hey, pick the same spot,’ and she did and put it right inside the window there,” Rusk said.

Shortly after Baca’s goal, La Cueva’s Florent Garcia knocked in the equalizer. Then with about six minutes left in regulation, La Cueva’s Leilani Sanchez scored the game-winner.

Cleveland had a number of golden opportunities to do more damage attacking the net, but couldn’t capitalize.

Cleveland had 11 shots on goal, while La Cueva had 16 shots on goal.

Descriptions for each photo are listed below, starting with the first one on the screen:

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Cleveland’s Ella Lent-Koop moves the ball down the field against La Cueva on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

Cleveland’s Mya Madilla clears the ball against La Cueva on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

La Cueva’s Erica Ihleim clears the ball downfield against Cleveland on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

La Cueva’s Tessa Updegraff looks to pass the ball while being chased after by Cleveland’s Alexus Guillen (5) and Taylor Williamson (17) on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

Cleveland’s Alexis Prosch fights for control of the ball against La Cueva’s Emily Masterson on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

Cleveland’s and La Cueva’s Oliva Haddock battle for control of the ball on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

La Cueva’s Jazzy Gibson passes the ball against Cleveland on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

Cleveland’s Alexus Guillen passes the ball while being defended by La Cueva’s Amber Otts on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

La Cueva’s Tessa Updegraff goes on the attack against Cleveland’s Ella Lent-Koop (14) on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at APS Soccer Complex in Albuquerque.

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Photos by Rio Rancho Observer staff writer Matt Hollinshead.

Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer