Taos boys soccer advances to the quarterfinals
The sixth seed Taos boys soccer team won its first playoff game against the 11th seed Highland Hornets, Albuquerque, at home Saturday (Nov. 3) with a final score of 2-1.
It was a clear and fair day, but windy. The conditions suited the Hornets’ style of lighter, shorter touches on the ball. The Tigers, who are more apt to send the ball long and high and count on their strength and speed to win it when the ball returns to earth, were more affected by the weather.
Perhaps in part due to the conditions, the first 27 minutes of the game were played closer to the ground. The Hornets ball skills and preference to play for possession kept them in the Taos half of the field. With 12:50 left in the half, the Hornets took a long shot on goal that passed unexpectedly through the hands of sophomore goalkeeper Missael Hermosillo and gave Highlands a 1-0 lead.
Taos returned under a minute later with a shot of its own but were denied. In the final five minutes of the half, the Tigers slowed down, controlled the ball and, thanks to a goal by Aidan Heflin, entered halftime 1-1.
Highland opened the second half with its defenders playing way up in the hopes of drawing the Tiger offense offside. But the Tigers took their time setting up the field and forward Patrick Penso made it a 2-1 game five minutes after the whistle.
Possession bounced back and forth for the remainder of the game, but with Hermosillo’s 10 saves, it was enough for the Tigers to win the exciting match.
This victory places Taos in the quarterfinals against the Santa Teresa Desert Warriors, whose third seed earned them a bye this weekend. That game is scheduled for Wednesday (Nov. 7) at 10:30 a.m. in neutral territory: the New Mexico Tournament Soccer Complex, Field 10, in Bernalillo. The winner heads to the semifinals the following day, today (Nov. 8) at 11 a.m.
Santa Teresa is a young team with only four seniors on the roster. Their 15-3-2 record includes two common opponents with the Tigers, whose record is now 15-2-1. Both Taos and Santa Teresa beat Hatch Valley when they played them in September, Taos with a score of 3-2, and Santa Teresa by 2-1. The Desert Warriors beat the 5A Santa Fe High School 4-0 while the Tigers lost to them with the same score.
The Taos Tigers and Santa Teresa have each allowed only 19 goals this season. The Desert Warriors with their 73 goals for the season are not as high scoring as the Tigers, who have 91.
The state championship game will be played at Bernalillo soccer complex Friday (Nov. 9) at 1 p.m.
Taos' Ben Hastings attempts to take control of the ball Saturday (Nov. 4) during Taos' 2-1 victory against the Highland Hornets at Taos Eco Park.