FARMINGTON — If it wasn't for a goal Farmington High scored against itself, the Scorpions may have had a shot at beating the 20th-ranked team in the nation.
The Farmington Scorpions played a strong second half against the top team in the state, Albuquerque Academy. But the Scorpions dug too deep of a hole to climb out of after giving up two goals in the first half, and they eventually fell to the Chargers 2-1.
"We came out, and we were not too worried about the score," said FHS head coach Byron Farnsworth. "The biggest thing is we wanted to basically establish where we are in the state. We wanted to let Academy know, whether they beat us or lose to us, we are going to outplay them."
Farmington High (10-6 overall, 3-0 District 1-4A) played fast and physical to match the strong play of the Chargers (16-1, 4-0 District 5-4A). But the Scorpions made a massive mistake 18 minutes into the game when the defense was unable to clear a ball out of the box that had slipped behind FHS goalkeeper Connor Tornquist. Two defenders hesitated to clear the ball out, and a Scorpion tapped the ball into the back of his own net.
"I think defensively, we did a phenomenal job. Two mistakes we should have cleaned up, but, hopefully, we get that figured out by state time," Farnsworth said.
The Scorps allowed another Albuquerque Academy goal with just a minute left in the first half. Academy got four shots off on the FHS goal. Tornquist made two saves and another shot hit the right post before senior midfielder Chase Snyder was finally able to squeak a shot past Tornquist.
Farmington answered with a goal just two minutes into the second half when Isaac Valencia ripped a left-footed shot past Academy goalkeeper Theodore Hooker.
The Scorpions controlled the ball the majority of the second half after the Valencia goal, but they simply couldn't beat Hooker the rest of the day.
"We were more energized and hyped up after my goal," Valencia said. "We tried really hard, but you can't get to every ball and you can't win every game. Their keeper is pretty big. It was hard to take shots at the top corners. We were trying whatever we could to take shots on the ground and make it harder for him, but we couldn't."
Albuquerque Academy head coach Laney Kolek said her team didn't play its best game, and she felt fortunate to win.
"It is never easy to come up here and play. Farmington is such a physical, quality squad," said Academy head coach Laney Kolek. "We didn't play as clean as we typically play. I give it to Farmington for keeping us on our heels for most of the game and trying to make us play a bit sharper. I knew if they got a goal it would give them momentum and speed. With the way we were playing, I was kind of expecting it to happen. Luckily, another goal didn't come across."
Kolek praised the play of Hooker, who made several big saves in the match. Tornquist also played well in goal, making nine saves.
Farnsworth felt his team was better conditioned at the end of the game, and Kolek credited a three-hour bus ride and an early start to the day for her team's struggles.
Both coaches said the game came at a perfect time for them to prepare their teams for the state tournament, which begins Nov. 2.
Valencia hopes the Scorps get one more shot at the Chargers in the state tournament.
"I want it really, really bad. If we get to play them at state, it will be a great game," he said. "We expect to see them, and the better team will take it then."John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.