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Aztec s Lacy Garcia (left) heads a ball during a game at Kirtland Central on Oct. 25 in Kirtland. Garcia scored the game-winning goal in the state quarterfinals against Kirtland Central on Thursday in Albuquerque.
After sending four teams to the state quarterfinals, the rest of District 1-4A will become fans for Aztec as the Lady Tigers were the only team to advance to the state semifinals Thursday.
No. 3 Aztec defeated No. 6 Kirtland Central 1-0 behind a first-half goal from Lacy Garcia.
While Aztec was busy eliminating a district foe, No. 5 Farmington battled to a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 4 St. Pius X while No. 7 Piedra Vista fell 1-0 to No. 2 Los Alamos.
Aztec will face Los Alamos at 11:30 a.m. today on APS Soccer Complex field No. 4.
Garcia’s goal was set up by a Rikki Newland direct kick. Kirtland Central senior goalkeeper Jennifer Hastings got her hands on the ball to make a save on Newland’s shot, but the ball rolled away from her and found the foot of Sierra Lanier who passed to wide-open Garcia in front of the net.
That was the only goal Aztec would need as the tough Lady Tiger defense shutout the Lady Broncos.
“Kirtland didn’t get a whole lot of shots off on us. We controlled the ball pretty well, but we struggled to finish,” said Aztec head coach Stephen Parks. “We had opportunities to put the ball in the net that, when we play Los Alamos, we have to finish on.”
The win gave Aztec a 4-0 record against Kirtland Central this year.
The focus against Los Alamos will be stopping talented Hilltoppers’ forward Amelia Neal, who has led 4A with 32 goals and 20 assists this season.
“I think our defense is ready to go. It is nice having a strong defense, but they are going to have to work hard and do everything right or else it could be devastating for them,” Parks said.
Piedra Vista did all it could to stop Los Alamos on Thursday in the quarterfinals but the Lady Panthers were shutout in their losing effort.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Albuquerque Academy will play No. 4 St. Pius X after the Lady Scorpions fell in overtime to the Sartans on Thursday.
St. Pius led Farmington early in the game, but a late second-half goal by Chantel Grubelnik sent the game into overtime before the Sartans eventually scored.
“The girls played hard and played well,” said FHS head coach Shannon Gill.
Farmington, Kirtland Central and Piedra Vista will all start rebuilding toward next year after the losses.
Farmington and PV both graduate six seniors while KC loses just two seniors.
“The younger girls had to grow fast this season and know what it will take for next year,” Gill said of the Lady Scorps. “They are on the edge of being very successful.”
Not only does Kirtland return the most players, they will also bring back both captains, Zoey Hooper and Kanani Tapaha as seniors in 2013.
“We have a good team. Losing to the No. 3 team in the state 1-0 is a victory in my book,” said Lady Broncos head coach Leonel Camacho. “We hope to place high in district and in state next year. I am proud of our girls and I can’t say anything negative about the way we played.”
While the other teams regroup for next year, Parks hopes to have the support of the rest of the San Juan County soccer fans today against Los Alamos.
He is also happy he won’t have to coach against another District 1-4A team again until next season.
“I don’t see our district being any different next year than what it always is. It is going to be that same battle,” Parks said. “I think we have already had a good showing for the Four Corners with four of eight teams in the quarterfinals. We hope to finish it off strong.”