FARMINGTON — Not only have the Aztec Lady Tigers outscored their opponents 72-2 in 10 games this season, they are doing it against quality opponents.
No. 2 Aztec (10-0) won the Albuquerque Academy Tournament championship on Saturday morning with a 2-0 victory against Hope Christian. The win came a day after the Lady Tigers defeated District 1-4A rival Farmington High 4-0 in a semifinal game.
"We feel really good. It has been a great weekend for us. We played some quality competition and saw right where we are," said Aztec head coach Stephen Parks.
Second-half goals from Lacy Garcia and Kayli Farmer pushed the Lady Tigers past Hope Christian in the championship game. Garcia's goal came 10 minutes into the second half when she tapped in a perfect crossing pass from Hailey Morris. Farmer iced the game late when she ripped a shot with her right foot to top corner of the goal.
While the high rate of scoring has been impressive, Parks said the play of goalkeeper Elana Kresl has really helped his team dominate.
Kresl has allowed just two goals all season, both of which came in a 4-2 home win against Belen.
"We didn't give up a goal all weekend. Elana made a lot of nice saves, including a huge save on a corner kick right in front of our goal," Parks said. "She is playing with a lot of confidence."
Aztec's defense has always been strong, but Parks admits he was a bit worried about his goalkeeper situation heading into the season after losing last year's starter to graduation.
"It really helps the team when they know they can feel secure and confident in the goalie," Parks said. "The one place we were kind of concerned with was we hadn't seen our defense versus a real tough team. This weekend, we adjusted well and played well, and having Elana behind the defense gives our girls security."
Morris, who, with 19 goals, has more than anyone else in the state, scored three goals on Friday night for Aztec in the 4-0 win against Farmington High. Jessica Kresl added another. Jessica Kresl and Garcia are currently third and fourth in total points this year in the 4A classification. Morris ranks first.
The Lady Scorpions (5-2) lost their first two games of the season this weekend. On Saturday, Farmington fell to Albuquerque Academy 2-0 in the third-place game of the tournament. The Lady Scorps won Thursday against Los Alamos. It was the second win of the year for Farmington against the always mighty Hilltoppers.
"It was good competition, which gave us good experience in adverse conditions," said FHS girls' head coach Shannon Gill.
The Lady Scorpions play their first home game of the season Tuesday against Miyamyura. Aztec will also play Tuesday at Gallup before hosting Miyamura on Thursday. After Thursday's game, Aztec has more than two weeks off before playing No. 1-ranked St. Pius X.
"We have a two-week break in there I am not thrilled with. We will keep working hard the next three weeks before district and stay hungry," Parks said. "We have to continue to practice hard and press through to get through all these games."
The Farmington High boys' team (5-2) took third place in the boys' bracket of the Albuquerque Academy Tournament. The Scorpions defeated Sandia Prep in penalty kicks on Thursday night before falling to Las Cruces 1-0 on Friday in a semifinal game. The Scorps rebounded with another win in penalty kicks against Cleveland on Saturday in a game that was tied 1-1 after regulation.
"We continued to improve through each game," said FHS head coach Byron Farnsworth. "The couple of games we have lost were because of self-inflicted mistakes. We want to clean it up, and we did against Cleveland."
Farmington High goalkeeper Connor Tornquist made two phenomenal saves in the penalty kick shootout to help the Scorps win, Farnsworth said.
Isaac Valencia scored Farmington's goal in regulation.
"Our communication has improved quite a bit between our forwards and midfielders. Valencia made some outstanding plays and Nathaniel Pavlik played shutdown defense," Farnsworth said. "With those two guys and Tornquist shutting it down, those three played outstanding."
After facing two 5A schools during the Albuquerque Academy tournament, the schedule gets no easier for the Scorpions this week. FHS will play Sandia Prep again Friday and then St. Pius X on Saturday.
"We have two very competitive games next weekend against great competition," Farnsworth said. "We can't ask for better competition for this early in the season to gauge where we stand. We know we have a lot of work to do, but we want to focus on peaking at the right time."
Volcano Vista 7, Piedra Vista 0
Two matches against two quality 5A opponents proved to be a tough assignment for the Piedra Vista girls.
Cibola defeated the Lady Panthers (5-4) by a score of 5-0 on Friday a day before Volcano Vista took down PV 7-0.
"Those are two really tough 5A teams. They play really fast," said PV head coach Shaun Taylor. "We had a tough time putting pressure on them. We had nothing good against Cibola, but we played very well against Volcano Vista. The score was not a reflection of what the game was like. They had a bunch of second-half goals late that tired legs couldn't prevent."
Taylor said the two games will help his team when they reach District 1-4A games against Aztec, Farmington and Kirtland Central.
"Our girls struggled putting pressure on the ball early in the year, but we hope games like this help us improve, so we can put pressure on the ball in district and give ourselves a chance in all the district games," Taylor said. "We still believe we can be a spoiler in our district."
PV will play again Tuesday at Bloomfield.
The Piedra Vista boys team also lost to Volcano Vista on Saturday, falling on the road by a score of 2-0.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.