From left to right and in electric blue, Arianna Barreras, Ella Lent-Koop and Sienna Salazar are ready to pounce on a goal-scoring opportunity vs. Cibola. (Gary Herron/Observer)
Now that they’ve defeated last year’s champ and remained unbeaten after 14 games, Cleveland High varsity girls soccer coach Greg Rusk had a week to get ready for the start of the district’s second half, which kicks off for them Saturday at 11 a.m. at Rio Rancho Stadium.
The CHS boys snapped a three-game skid with an impressive win down the hill Wednesday, and then fought to a draw with No. 1 Volcano Vista three days later.
Here’s how the Storm girls played in their most recent games:
Cleveland 2, Volcano Vista 1: After spotting the visiting Hawks the only goal of the first half on Saturday, the Storm 13-0-1, 4-0) got second-half tallies, each assisted by Arissa C’de Baca, by Soane Sinnott in the 55th minute and Maleah Quiñones four minutes later – and that’s all they needed.
Brooke Keene had 10 saves for the winners.
Cleveland 8, Atrisco Heritage Academy 0: Sienna Salazar had a hat trick, and Ella Lent-Koop and Quiñones each netted two goals in a shutout of the Jaguars (5-9, 0-3) at the APS soccer complex on Sept. 24.
Angeline Montoya scored CHS’s first goal, helping the visitors take a 3-0 lead by halftime.
Storm goalkeepers Keene and Madison Johnson each had one save apiece, while AHA ’keeper Jacklyn Colazo made 18 saves, or the damage would have been worse.
It was the fifth shutout of the Jaguars by the Storm in as many all-time meetings.
Cleveland 4, Santa Fe 0: Arianna Barreras’s goal in the 31st minute was the only goal the Storm would need on Sept. 26 in a non-district home game vs. the Demons.
The Storm extended what had been a 1-0 lead at intermission to 4-0 with two second-half goals by Lent-Koop and another by Rylie Pengelly.
Keene went the distance between the pipes and had four saves, as the Storm racked up their sixth shutout of the season and third in a row – all 1-5A encounters.
Cleveland 4, Cibola 2: Matching their best start in school history, a 12-0-1 record in the 2016 season, the Storm never trailed in their Wednesday evening game at Lightning Bolt Stadium.
Kiana Jamerson, Salazar, Taylor Williamson and Quiñones found the back of the net for Cleveland.
“Our district is just insane,” Rusk said. “There’s never a gimme. Cibola’s a very good team, and I’m proud of the girls.”
At halftime, Rusk said he told his team – referring to their 3-2 lead – “Let’s make sure that stays a 2 on their side.”
“This team has fabulous balance, between the offense and defense,” Rusk said, when asked if the Storm could get back to the championship game, as it had done in 2017.
“We’re strong on both sides, so t the answer is, ‘Yeah, we can make it there, but we have to make it through our district first.’”
The Storm play just once this week: Saturday at 11 a.m. at Rio Rancho. The Storm beat the Rams 6-0 in the Sept. 21 meeting at Cleveland.
Rams girls are struggling
Meanwhile, as the Storm keep winning by shutout, the No. 15 Rams (6-7-1, 0-3) kept losing by shutout: 1-0 at St. Pius X, 6-0 at Cleveland and 4-0 to visiting Volcano Vista on Sept. 23.
That made it four hours without a goal for RRHS, but that ended in a shootout on Oct. 1 at Cibola.
The Rams still lost, but they scored five goals in regulation (scorers’ names not available). Cibola notched the game-winning tally in the first OT of their 6-5 win.
The Rams had another game left in the first half of the district, as they were home Oct. 5 to meet Atrisco Heritage Academy.
Storm boys fit to be tied
Atrisco Heritage Academy 3, Storm 1: On Sept. 24, the Jaguars handed the host Storm their second 1-5A loss in as many outings.
Junior Isaac Hendricks’ second-half goal put the Storm on the scoreboard.
Cleveland boys 1, Cibola 0: Christian Dapolito saw the Cougars’ goalkeeper stop him twice at close range in the first half of their Sept. 28 contest, but that didn’t happen in the decisive second half, as his unassisted tally in the 46th minute turned out to be all the scoring in this district contest on Cibola’s turf.
Joaquin Armijo didn’t have much to do in front of the Storm’s goal, thanks to his defenders. It’s his team’s seventh shutout of the season.
“That was a lot better (effort) defensively,” said Storm coach Shaun Gill. “We’ve been working on that, actually.
“All-around, I think we controlled most of the game and were able to close it out, maintain the 1-0 lead and finish the game. … Overall, I’m proud of the boys. They played hard,” Gill said.
“They executed some of the stuff we worked on it practice, which is always fun to see.”
The Cougars slipped to 4-9 overall and winless after two district games.
Storm 2, Volcano Vista 2: Brayan Ramirez and Dominic Aguilar scored second -half goals for the visiting Storm the morning of Oct. 1, leading to an eventual draw when neither team scored in either of the two 10-minute overtime periods.
The Storm take an 8-7-2 overall mark and 1-2-1 district mark into their meeting Saturday morning with the Rams.
After Jaguars, Rams meet Storm
Volcano Vista 2, Rams 1: In a matter of five or so minutes, elation turned to frustration for the RRHS boys on the afternoon of Sept. 24.
Spotting the host Hawks a first-half goal, junior Giancarlo Figueroa dribbled the ball downfield before unleashing a line shot into the upper right-hand corner to know the contest at 1, with less than five minutes remaining in the District 1-5A contest.
Headed to overtime, right?
Nope: The Hawks netted the game-winner, beating Rams goalkeeper Antonio Cross-Guillen, with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Thus, no OT; no win and no tie.
Rams 2, Cibola 1: On the morning of Oct. 1, the Rams edged the visiting Cougars to not only keep the Cougars winless in 1-5A contests but also remain in contention for the top spot as the second half begins Saturday at Cleveland.
The Rams also beat Cibola, 1-0, in APS Metro action on Aug. 24.
RRHS was 8-3-2 overall and 2-1 in 1-5A as it headed into an Oct. 5 contest vs. Atrisco Heritage Academy at the APS soccer complex.
Headers: Two former Cleveland High standouts, the Legendre brothers, are seeing playing time out of state. Sophomore forward Gabe Legendre leads Ft. Lewis (1-6-2) in scoring with four goals; he has started all nine games for the Skyhawks. Younger brother Nicholas has played in three games in his freshman season at Notre Dame but has yet to notch a point.