Girls prep soccer: St. Pius, ABQ High win semis; St. Michael's claims 1A-3A title

Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·11 min read

Apr. 8—Senior forward Emma Donlin scored in the second minute and also provided two assists in the first half to lead host St. Pius to a 3-1 win over visiting Goddard in a Class 4A girls state semifinal on Thursday.

Donlin injured her right wrist in the season opener but has had it taped up since, showing her passion to contribute to the Sartans, coach David Sullivan Jr. said.

"Emma has been the biggest blessing in my life over the past four years," Sullivan said. "That kid never complains, always works hard. ... She's our motor."

For the third straight year, Donlin is the team leader in goals and assists. This season, she has 11 goals and 12 assists.

The Sartans (9-0-2) advanced to play against Hope Christian in Saturday's title match. That could be Donlin's final competitive game of soccer. She is not wanting to play soccer in college because she wants to become a doctor and she doesn't want to take on a lot of debt, said Sullivan, who added that he's "working on" trying to convince her to continue playing.

For now, they're concentrating on this unexpected — and delayed from fall until spring — senior season that was thought for naught because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, their off day, the Sartans listened to their coach during a video session.

"We talked about having the courage to play and trying to play the game how it's meant to be played," Sullivan said. "In the first half we did a really good job of doing that."

Donlin's early goal, off an assist from Lauren Salas, threw off the Rockets, Goddard coach Jamie Martinez said. The Sartans kept attacking. Taylor Wilson scored in the 22nd minute and Gabby Jeantete added the final goal in the 28th minute.

Martinez said the Rockets made adjustments after that and it was a different, more back-and-forth action. Goddard's Sara Mathison scored on a free kick from near the top of the 18-yard box in the 61st minute after a hand-ball call on St. Pius.

— Steve Virgen

ST. PIUS 3, GODDARD 1

Goddard 0 1 — 1

St. Pius 3 0 — 3

Scoring: St. Pius, 2nd minute, Emma Donlin (Lauren Salas); 22nd, Taylor Wilson (Donlin); 28th, Gabby Jeantete (Donlin); Goddard, 61st, Sarah Mathison. Corner kicks: St. Pius 5, Goddard 0. Saves: St. Pius 2 (Alicia Barela), Goddard 2 (Emily Mathison). Records: St. Pius 9-0-1, Goddard 7-4.

HOPE CHRISTIAN 2, AZTEC 0: Hannah Gutierrez and Addison Anaya helped Hope break through with a goal and assist each in the second half to beat Aztec.

Aztec proved to be tough with "a lot of grit and played hard," Hope coach Amy Fankam said.

The host Huskies (10-1-1) needed consistent effort and their knack to create opportunities to find the back of the net twice, Gutierrez scored in the 68th minute and Anaya put one in in the 72nd minute.

Hope defender Heather Gibbs came up with a great end-line save to prevent a score when the game was scoreless. If Aztec had scored, it could have gained momentum, Fankam said.

St. Pius beat the Huskies, 2-1 and the teams tied 1-1 in matches earlier this season.

"We're excited to play against a great team," Fankam said of facing the Sartans. "A third time is a charm. That's what we're aiming for."

Class 5A

ABQ HIGH 5, CENTENNIAL 2: The host Albuquerque High team enjoyed a historic moment Thursday, advancing to the program's first state championship final.

The Bulldogs (7-0) were all smiles afterward, but they made it a point to keep the celebration brief.

"It feels amazing to get to a championship with this group of girls," senior Gabriela Meraz-Fishbein said. "We had a frustrating loss to Carlsbad last year in the quarters and we've been using it as fuel. We want to show people what we can do."

Abila Tapia had two goals, and Meraz-Fishbein had a goal and an assist for host AHS, which prevented Centennial (11-1) from reaching its second consecutive state final. The Hawks lost to Volcano Vista in 2019.

The Bulldogs will face top-seeded CArlsbad, which beat Rio Rancho 3-2 in the other semifinal, in Saturday's 3 p.m. final at the UNM main soccer stadium. AHS got as far as the state semifinals in 2015 and '18 before falling.

"This group really wanted to make history and they deserve it," said first-year AHS girls varsity coach Sara Torrez. "We had a little bit of a slow start today, but then the girls settled in and played our game."

The Bulldogs and Hawks had dominated their previous matches during this abbreviated 2021 spring season. Before Thursday, Albuquerque had outscored its opponents by a combined 50-0, while Centennial amassed a 58-4 scoring advantage.

There was no domination this time as both teams had numerous quality scoring chances. AHS cashed in first when Meraz-Fishbein gathered a free kick from Sofia Trejo in front of the goal and banged it home in the seventh minute.

Centennial answered in the 24th minute when Kendra DuBois sent a hard shot between the legs of goalie AHS Ainsley Westlake to make it 1-1. The Bulldogs grabbed a 2-1 halftime lead when Zaria Kateswiga collided with diving Centennial goalkeeper Rylee Thatcher outside the goal area. The ball trickled free, and Tapia knocked it into the open net.

Tapia converted another tap-in goal early in the second half, but the Hawks trimmed the deficit to 3-2 when Jennifer Enriquez hammered a free kick into the net in the 60th minute.

The Bulldogs finally gained control of the match late. Tapia was taken down to set up Sofia Trejo's goal on a penalty kick to make the score 4-2.

Moments later, Sabrina Reyes blasted a 30-yard rocket into the upper net cords to give the Bulldogs a three-goal cushion.

— Ken Sickenger

ALBUQUERQUE HIGH 5, CENTENNIAL 2

At Albuquerque High

No. 3 Centennial 1 1 — 2

No. 2 Albuquerque 2 3 — 5

Scoring: 7th, A, Gabriela Meraz-Fishbein (Sofia Trejo); 24th, C, Kendra DuBois; 32nd, A, Abila Tapia (Zaria Katesigwa); 45th, A, Tapia (Katesigwa); 60th, C, Jennifer Enriquez; 64th, A, Trejo (PK); 69th, A, Sabrina Reyes (Meraz-Fishbein). Shots: A 19, C 13. Corner kicks: C 3, A 1. Saves: C 10 Rylee Thatcher 5, Alexandra Reyna 5); A 11 (Ainsley Westlake). Records: A 7-0; C 11-1.

CARLSBAD 3, RIO RANCHO 2: What a difference a year (and a half) makes. In October 2019 the Carlsbad Cavegirls were knocked out of the Class 5A soccer playoffs in the semifinals while the Rio Rancho Lady Rams didn't even qualify for the postseason. Now in April 2021 these two teams met in the 5A semifinals with Carlsbad holding on and advancing to the championship game for the first time in program history.

Carlsbad (10-0) got off to an incredibly start fast, needing less than 30 seconds to score. Cavegirl junior Alexa Dugan raced down the sideline and crossed the ball to senior Morgan Bradley, who found the back of the goal to put Carlsbad up, 1-0.

It appeared to be all Carlsbad to start out the second half when senior Emily Hervol hit a shot from 33 yards out to give the Cavegirls a comfortable 3-0 lead with 30 minutes left in regulation.

Rio Rancho (7-3-2) didn't quit and finally got on the scoreboard two minutes later. Rio Rancho senior Marisa Molina was awarded a free kick and got it by a diving Korrine Bradford to cut the lead to 3-1 with 28 minutes left.

The Rams were dealt an emotional blow right afterwards. Autumn Huntington was accidentally struck square in the face with a ball kicked by Carlsbad and could not continue the match. She had to be removed from the field in an ambulance, but she was able to move her extremities and wasn't dealing with any tingling sensation.

After the long break, both teams were out of sorts in the reset, but Rio Rancho continued to attack. The Lady Rams closed to within 3-2 when Maya Romero got a cross kick of her own by Bradford with 15 minutes left.

Both teams continued to attack but in the end, the Cavegirls defense did enough to prevent one final Rio Rancho goal.

Rio Rancho head coach Uwe Balzis was proud of how his team handled the entire season.

"A lot of them worked out individually during COVID when they were locked in at home," Balzis said. "They came back (this season) and we set goals. One of them was to come at least into the playoffs. That's awesome. We're really happy we have come so far. I think we slept through the first half and at the end it was a little too late. We could have tied it but congrats to Carlsbad because they came out sharp and ready to play."

— Matthew Asher/Carlsbad Current-Argus

Class 1A-3A

ST. MICHAEL'S 4, SOCORRO 1: After a couple near misses in recent years, St. Michael's left nothing to chance against Socorro in the Class 1A-3A girls state championship game.

The top-seeded Lady Horseman jumped out to a quick two-goal lead and never let up from there, claiming the program's fourth blue trophy with a 4-1 triumph over the No. 3 Warriors on Thursday afternoon at University of New Mexico Soccer Complex. It is St. Michael's first title since 2009 and allows the team to bounce back from the disappointments of past tournaments — namely championship game defeats in 2018, 2015 and 2014. The Lady Horseman also avenged a 2019 semifinal loss to Socorro.

"It's an amazing feeling," said first-year coach Alfonso Camarena. "We've been so close in the past. We lost three times in the finals in previous years. And I didn't want my girls to walk out crying. I wanted there to be tears of happiness. This is dedicated to the parents, the school and for Santa Fe."

The Lady Horseman (8-0-1) struck in the ninth minute, when Olivia Farrar lofted a beautiful pass over the top of the Warriors (7-4-1) defense to senior forward Rachael Morgan, who slipped the ball past goalie Chailynn Amaro and into the net for a 1-0 advantage. Shortly thereafter, freshman Elsa Ranney Smith converted a breakaway opportunity for a 2-0 lead.

That set the tone for the rest of the contest.

"We go after our opponents," said Camarena. "We are a very well-balanced team. We score goals, we control the midfield. We have an amazing defensive system and a wonderful goalie."

Camarena's sentiments proved true once the Warriors settled in following St. Michael's initial outburst. Socorro had plenty of scoring opportunities of its own in the first half — including several for standout junior Elise Madril — but all were denied by goalie Milena Keene, who thwarted multiple one-on-one sequences and also authored a nifty volleyball-esque save by tipping a high shot over the crossbar.

"As far as the (one-on-ones), I felt the pressure, but I really wanted to win for my team, especially for the seniors since we've been so close all those years," said Keene, a junior.

Morgan essentially sealed the victory for St. Michael's with a laser shot into the upper right corner of the Socorro goal from about 25 yards out early in the second half, and Olivia Farrar tacked on another score by capitalizing on a scramble near the Warriors net after a Morgan corner kick in the 55th minute.

Socorro secured its only goal — just the second allowed all season by Keene — after the outcome had long been decided.

"We base our program on discipline, hard work and respect," Camarena said. "They all like each other. We don't have stars. It's one solid team."

— Tristen Critchfield

NO. 1 ST. MICHAEL'S 4, NO. 3 SOCORRO 1

Socorro 0 1—1

St. Mike's 2 2—4

Scoring: SM, 9th, Rachael Morgan (Olivia Farrar); SM, 20th Elsa Ranney Smith (Grace Sandoval); SM, Morgan (Smith); SM, 55th Farrar (Morgan); Soc, Lola Apodaca. Corner Kicks: Soc 8, SM 7. Shots: Soc 7, SM 10. Saves: Soc, Chailynn Amaro 5; SM Milena Keene 7. Rec.: SM 8-0-1, Soc 7-4-1.

Class 1A-3A girls bracket

Class 4A girls bracket

Class 5A girls bracket