It’s a Storm-y Night

Bar­reras gets his se­nior mo­ment, de­liv­ers school’s first soc­cer crown

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY JAMES YODICE JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA PUE­BLO — From the side­lines, the coaches of the Cleve­land High School boys soc­cer team were shout­ing at their team. At any­one and ev­ery­one.

“Let Gabe take it!” one coach screamed over and over, to lit­tle avail.

With all the fan noise at the com­plex on the Santa Ana Pue­blo, the Storm play­ers couldn’t hear the in­struc­tion. And be­sides, it didn’t re­ally mat­ter, any­way.

Gabriel Le­gen­dre and Jairo Bar­reras had al­ready made their pact.

“I want to thank Gabe,” Bar­reras said, “for let­ting me take it.”

“It” was a penalty kick in the 97th minute. And it proved to be the only goal of the Class 5A state fi­nal, as that PK late in the sec­ond over­time handed the top-ranked and top-seeded Storm (20-3) its first state cham­pi­onship, 1-0 over No. 6 May­field on a cold Fri­day night.

It was Bar­reras, a se­nior, who asked Le­gen­dre, a ju­nior and ar­guably the state’s most dan­ger­ous of­fen­sive weapon, if he could make the at­tempt from the line af­ter the Tro­jans were called for a hand ball in the box that they ve­he­mently protested.

“I told him, ‘Yeah he can,’ ” Le­gen­dre said. “It’s his se­nior year, and I wanted

him to win it for Cleve­land.”

The shot went to the left of May­field goal­keeper Xavier Calderon, who guessed the other di­rec­tion, and the Cleve­land play­ers, along with a siz­able por­tion of their large crowd, spilled onto the pitch to cel­e­brate.

Funny thing is, Le­gen­dre ad­mit­ted af­ter­ward, he knew what the Cleve­land coaches were shout­ing.

“I heard it,” he said. “I (de­cided) I’m gonna let Jairo take it. He de­serves it.”

In­formed that Bar­reras and Le­gen­dre went rogue, as it were, Storm coach Shaun Gill didn’t flinch, and he didn’t mind.

“That’s the kind of team­mates we’ve got, the kind of team we’ve got,” he said. “And that just ex­em­pli­fies our guys and what we achieved this year to­gether.”

The hand ball oc­curred af­ter a Cleve­land cor­ner kick went into the box. Amid a mass of hu­man­ity, the cen­ter of­fi­cial saw a May­field player touch with an arm, or a hand.

“It was un­for­tu­nate they got a hand ball, but that’s soc­cer,” Le­gen­dre said.

Nat­u­rally, the Tro­jans (166-1) — who were also seek­ing a first blue tro­phy in this sport — dis­agreed with the call and were still fum­ing about it af­ter the game.

“Dur­ing a game like this? A call like that?” May­field coach Andy Polanco said. “It’s hard to swal­low.”

Es­pe­cially for Calderon, who had two bril­liant sec­ond-half saves that helped May­field get into over­time in the first place.

“He should be proud of what he did,” Bar­reras said of Calderon’s ef­fort.

The over­times proved to be rather more in­tense than the 80 min­utes of reg­u­la­tion, with both teams hav­ing chances. Just mo­ments ear­lier in the sec­ond over­time, May­field ju­nior Eliseo Chavez made an out­stand­ing run, gath­ered a through­ball and had po­si­tion on Cleve­land goalie Ryan Wat­son who had come out to cut down the an­gle.

Chavez chipped a shot over Wat­son’s head, but the ball trick­led just wide of the net.

This was Cleve­land’s first play­offs as a No. 1 seed. The Storm had been widely hailed through­out the off­sea­son as be­ing on that short list of teams to beat, and it all came to fruition on Fri­day.

“We saw from the be­gin­ning,” Bar­reras said, “that we had some­thing spe­cial go­ing on.”

Said Gill: “I knew we were that cal­iber of team, with that cal­iber of boys.”

GREG SORBER/JOUR­NAL

Jairo Bar­reras ripped off his jersey af­ter he scored the game-win­ning goal on a penalty kick in the sec­ond over­time for Cleve­land in its 1-0 vic­tory over May­field for the Class 5A boys state soc­cer cham­pi­onship.

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