The path to a second consecutive state championship and a third blue trophy in four years got a whole lot easier for the Farmington Scorpions on Thursday.
Not only did the No. 4 Scorpions defeat No. 5 St. Pius X 2-1 in overtime of a state quarterfinal in Albuquerque, but No. 8 Capital also upset No. 1 Albuquerque Academy 3-1.
The Capital Jaguars from Santa Fe will now meet Farmington at 4:30 p.m. today at the APS Soccer Complex with a trip to the 4A state championship game on the line.
“It is hard to describe, but we are definitely excited,” said Farmington's first-year head coach Ryan Atkinson.
St. Pius X, a perennial state contender, scored first against Farmington on Thursday afternoon as the Scorpions came out a bit nervous after a two-week layoff, Atkinson said.
But a big equalizing goal off the foot of Naeem Begay gave Farmington a big confidence boost before halftime.
Begay's goal came on a direct kick from 19 yards out.
“The goal was something else. I believed I could make it and told myself I was doing it for my team,” Begay said. “I made it and tied the game and gave us momentum.”
The game remained tied through the end of regular time and went into overtime with Capital anxiously watching to see which team it would face in the semifinals.
It didn't take long for the Scorpions to secure the win as Begay hit fellow senior midfielder Jermey Klepac with a good pass that Klepac used to score the game-winning goal.
“Begay got the ball on his feet and played it to Klepac and Klepac put a good strike on the goal and scored,” Atkinson said.
Begay said the chemistry he and Klepac have together led to the score.
“Klepac and I work together all the time. I trusted him to make the shot and it was a game-winner for us,” Begay said. “It was something else.”
After going down in the game early, Begay said the team never put their heads down and kept digging toward the victory.
“It was really exciting to pull out the win. We all gave it our best,” he said. “A lot of players were getting injuries and we went down on the scoreboard for a bit, but we fought with all heart.”
Atkinson admitted he doesn't know much of anything about Capital, but he knows his Scorps have the ability to win a state title no matter who they play to get there.
“We have no idea what Capital is like. We won't know until we show up to the field, but our guys are mentally prepared so we will have a good opportunity,” Atkinson said. “A lot of our guys weren't on that state championship team last year, but the guys who were are talking with them and getting the motivated. It always helps as a coach to have those older guys in there taking the younger guys under their wing and showing them how to play right.”