Oct. 7—With a half-dozen games remaining in the 2021 high school soccer season, a little history was made Wednesday night at Santa Fe High.
Humming along with 13 straight wins to open their schedule, the Demons' girls picked up landmark win No. 14, beating visiting Rio Grande 5-0. Team captain Jazzi Gonzalez registered a hat trick while Sonia Goujon and Tatiana Winter added one goal apiece to keep Santa Fe unbeaten and alone in first place in District 5-5A.
Most importantly the team set a school record for wins in a single season and leaves the Demons just three goals shy of 100, which would be another first for the program.
"It's kind of amazing because we're winning games 10-0 this year and it wasn't all that long ago that this team would lose 10-0 year after year," said Santa Fe High head coach Justin Najaka. "You look at our roster, with so many younger players — it could be the start of a dynasty."
In his first season with the Demons (14-0, 4-0), Najaka has managed a program that has risen to the top of Class 5A by dominating games at both ends of the pitch. That was true again Wednesday as his club was never seriously threatened.
Goalkeeper Molly Wissman had a few shots sent in her direction but was not in any real danger. Her defense frustrated Rio's offense all night, while the Demons' offense kept the ball in the Ravens' end most of the game.
It took nearly 15 minutes before Santa Fe High snapped the scoreless tie. It came after a handful of quality looks that were turned away by Rio's defense. This one came from Goujon, just one of four seniors on the team. It led to a series of even better scoring opportunities, most of them ending in frustrating fashion.
Sophomore midfielder Lily Earnest hit the same spot on the same post twice on one play. She drove in from the right side just outside the box and lined her first shot across the mouth of the goal, clanging it hard off the far upright.
The ball found its way back to her and she sent a knee-high shot in the same direction, albeit from a steeper angle. The ball clanged off once again.
Earnest had an exasperated look on her face as she and her teammates laughed about it as they ran back up the field.
"I couldn't do that again if I tried," Earnest said. "I was, like, 'That didn't just happen.' "
As if to prove a point, Goujon did the same thing moments later when she gathered a deflected save and smacked her follow shot off the post.
It wasn't until the 34th minute when Gonzalez got her first goal of another deflected save inside the box that things started to loosen up. It led to two more goals before the half, all off the foot of the junior striker. Her second goal rolled right through the legs of the Rio Grande keeper, nearly hitting the same post Earnest did just a few minutes before.
"Getting 14 wins means so much," Goujon said. "We've done something no one else has ever done here. I don't think anyone expected it."
The Demons remain the only undefeated team in Class 5A. With a huge district match looming Saturday at second-place Albuquerque High (6-6, 4-1), they can put a stranglehold on 5-5A with win No. 15 against the Bulldogs. Doing so would open a two-game lead with just five dates remaining.
That includes a rare but exceedingly necessary doubleheader against Capital on Oct. 20 to wrap up the regular season. The teams were supposed to play Saturday at Capital, but only four Jaguars players showed up to a game they thought was scheduled for two hours later.
Rather than take a forfeit, Najaka agreed to play the teams' regularly scheduled game the same day as the make-up.
"Every game counts for us because we're thinking about what our standing will be when they set the playoffs," he said.
As of Wednesday, Santa Fe High was No. 5 in the MaxPreps power rankings for Class 5A. Cibola was a firm No. 1, followed by Carlsbad, La Cueva and a five-loss Rio Rancho club.
"I definitely don't think we're getting the respect we deserve," Gonzalez said. "I mean, what's up with that?"
As if on cue, the Demons got a celebratory light show courtesy of the Santa Fe High administration. As the players spoke about their win, the stadium lights strobed on and off for a few seconds.
"I guess that's for us?" one of them said. "We'll take it."