FARMINGTON — The quality of girls' soccer in District 1-4A was on display Thursday night.
No. 3 Farmington High defeated No. 2 Aztec 2-1 in penalty kicks thanks to late-game heroics from Hannah Kelley, which sent the game into overtime. No. 8 Kirtland Central and No. 9 Piedra Vista played through 100 scoreless minutes before PV bested the Lady Broncos after fighting through nine penalty kick shootouts.
"It was a great night of soccer," said FHS head coach Shannon Gill. "With all of us in the top-10 in state, it is always going to be tough."
Farmington's win moved the Scorpions (11-6 overall, 3-1 District 1-4A) into a tie with Aztec (16-2, 3-1) for first place in the district. Two games remain on the district schedule for both teams. PV (9-7, 2-2) stayed within one game of the district lead.
"Now, with two one-loss teams and us with just two losses, we could be in great shape," said PV coach Ryan Mussett. "If we can somehow win out, we would be in great shape. The next two games, we are going to lay it all out there."
Aztec led FHS 1-0 thanks to a Rikki Newland first-half goal. But, with just two minutes left in regulation, Kelley scored the equalizing goal on a breakaway.
"We gave her a breakaway, and she put it in the net. We played well the whole game, but that last two minutes cost us," said Aztec head coach Stephen Parks.
Gill said she was proud of her team for staying strong until the final whistle.
"For us to keep fighting until the end, that is something we have been trying to work on all season. We never want to give up or be complacent," she said.
Payton Sandoval finished off the win for the Lady Scorps by putting in a penalty kick to give FHS a 4-3 advantage in the shootout.
Aztec had a few chances to score in overtime, but Parks said the team just couldn't find the back of the net.
"No loss is easy to take, but it is better that we take it now than when we get to state in the first or second round," Parks said. "We have to go out the last two games of district and finish. ... We have to focus on getting better as a team and winning games to be prepared to go into state."
PV now has its sights set on upsetting the rest of the district following its dramatic win. It was a heartbreaker for Kirtland Central (10-7, 0-4), which has lost all four district games in overtime.
"I don't know what to do with myself. We go into penalty kicks and go through nine shooters. I can't ask for anything else from my girls," said KCHS head coach Lionel Camacho. "I don't know how we have lost every game in overtime. We are trying to catch a break, and we didn't get one. There is nothing we can do about it."
Two young players stepped up to hit penalty kicks for PV at critical times. Eighth grader Alison Schroth eventually hit the game-winner.
"I think I am going to die five years earlier because of all of this," joked PV coach Mussett. "Every time Kirtland made a PK, we would make one. If they missed, we missed. To finally win on that ninth shooter, I was so glad it was over. To have every single girl on the team step up was amazing to watch."
The coaches hope all four teams can once again be represented in the state tournament, regardless of what happens next week when the district schedule is completed.
Camacho is nervous his Kirtland Central squad may get overlooked by the selection committee, but a win Saturday at home against 3A Hope Christian could help the Lady Broncos' chances.
"I hope the state will recognize that Aztec is No. 2 and FHS is No. 3, and we have gone to overtime with all of them. I worry because you never know what the committee will do. It is tough for us to plead our case," Camacho said. "A win against Hope would definitely help our confidence and help the rankings."
Farmington 3, Aztec 0
Farmington High controlled the ball and didn't let Aztec get a shot off on a cold and windy day at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.
The Scorpions (10-5 overall, 3-0 District 1-4A) defeated the Aztec Tigers 3-0 on Thursday.
Nathaniel Pavlik gave FHS a 1-0 halftime lead after scoring on a penalty kick. Isaac Valencia and Jorge Chavira each added goals in the second half.
"We missed a whole lot of opportunities, but we had good possession," said FHS head coach Byron Farnsworth. "We worked on a lot of things we needed to before we play Albuquerque Academy on Saturday. We used our outside backers a lot more to swing the ball around and help create more opportunities to score."
No. 5 FHS will host No. 1 Albuquerque Academy on Saturday.
Aztec (4-12, 0-3) won't play again until next Tuesday when the Tigers visit Piedra Vista.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.