Atrisco Heritage Academy 1, Rio Rancho 0: Four days after edging the Rams, 3-2 in overtime, depriving Rio Rancho of the outright District 1-5A title, the No. 12 Jaguars deprived the Rams boys of a trip to Hobbs for a state quarterfinal game.
Edwin Ramirez’s goal in the 10th minute, helped along by a defensive lapse, was all the visiting Jaguars (11-8) would need to advance.
“When we saw that we were drawn with them, everything we had seen before, we forgot about — this was a new game,” explained AHA coach Javier Hernandez. “Winning Saturday means nothing today — anything could have happened: They could have mercy-ruled us; we could have mercy-ruled them. That’s how soccer goes.”
As for his fifth-seeded, defending 5A champion Rams (15-6), coach John Shepard said, “Just one unlucky bounce, and they took advantage of the one mistake and they put it away.You have to credit them … we just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“That goalkeeper (Jose Corral) made six or seven saves that were good, legitimate scoring opportunities. … They had a smart game plan coming in.”
Rio Rancho 3, Eldorado 0: Junior forward Maya Romero scored the game’s first goal and later scored the last goal, leading the No. 8 Rams (13-7-1) into a 5A quarterfinal game Saturday at 11 a.m. at No. 1 Cibola — a team that has beaten them 10 times in a row.
Romero’s goal came in the 13th minute, and teammate Kennedy Baugh drilled the ball into the net from about 35 yards out in the 33rd minute for an insurance tally, a shot that eluded freshman goalkeeper Caitlin Sanchez..
Romero found the back of the net again in the 65th minute, ending the season for the visiting No. 9 Eagles (10-6-3).
RRHS coach Uwe Balzis said the plan was to score early, with the howling wind at their backs, and then play solid defense. It worked, and Rams ‘keeper Samantha Shaver wasn’t tested too often.
“Despite that 2-0 first-half lead, Balzis said, “It wasn’t over, so we played defense again. … (With) that wind, you never know what happens.”
As for the quarterfinal meeting with the Cougars, who beat the Rams 3-2 and 5-0 this fall, he said, Hopefully, we are highly motivated. … Everything has to work against Cibola, because they are so good.”
Cibola ended Rams’ seasons in the playoffs in 2013, ’15, ’16 and ’17.
(Read more about Tuesday’s state first-round games in the Oct. 31 edition of the Rio Rancho Observer!)