Bobcats, Tigers soccer teams represent San Juan County in state tournament
FARMINGTON — Three soccer teams from San Juan County have advanced to the 2021 New Mexico Activities Association State Soccer Tournament, which kicks off Tuesday across the state.
On the girls bracket, the Aztec Tigers will open the tournament on the road Tuesday at 4 p.m. when they face the Moriarty Pintos in the first round in Class 4A competition.
At the same time, the 10th seeded Bloomfield Bobcats will be on the road at Valencia to face the Jaguars.
The Tigers and Bobcats, first and second atop the standings in District 1-4A, will both have their hands full in opening round matchups.
The Tigers, who finished the regular season with an overall record of 7-11-2 and a district record of 6-1-1, will face a Moriarty squad led by senior Lila Lionbarger, who leads the squad with 25 goals this season.
"We took a look at some film of them last night and we're going to have our work cut out against her," said Aztec girls soccer coach Leroy Nelson. "She's going to be a tough one to manage."
The Tigers will counter with Ashley Sexton and Rheala Herrera, the two leading scorers on the team, in hopes of securing a win and moving on to the next round. The winner of the match between Aztec and Moriarty will face top seed and 9-time state champion St. Pius in the second round.
The eighth-seeded Pintos come into the tournament with an overall record of 8-6-2 and a 3-2-1 mark in District 2-4A, which was good enough for second place behind 4th seeded Los Alamos.
Earlier this season, Moriarty hosted Kirtland Central, with the Broncos coming away with a 2-1 victory.
On the other side of the girls bracket, Bloomfield will get tested by seventh-seeded Valencia, coming into the game with a record of 10-8 overall and 6-2 in District 5-4A, finishing behind only St. Pius.
"They were so excited to hear their name called when the selections were announced," said Bobcats coach Jamey Jones. "Then we got right to work on our next match."
The Jaguars boast a pair of significant scoring threats, including junior Morgan Sanchez and senior Nicholette Hawkins, who have combined for 29 goals this season.
The winner of the match between Bloomfield and Valencia moves on to the quarterfinals and a showdown with second-seeded Hope Christian.
Meantime, on the boys side of the bracket, 11-seed Bloomfield hits the road for a Tuesday night match against 6th seeded Highland, winners of six straight and atop the standings in District 5-4A, a half game better than 17-time state champion St. Pius.
The Bobcats earned the top spot via tiebreaker in District 1-4A, just ahead of Miyamura, seeded 12th in the Class 4A bracket and on the road to face Hope Christian.
The Bobcats and Miyamura faced each other twice during the season, with Bloomfield winning the first matchup Sept. 23 by a final of 5-1 and the Patriots blanking the Bobcats 3-0 in the rematch on Oct. 12. The aggregate score of those matchups gave Bloomfield the edge by a 5-4 margin.
Bobcats head coach Scott Reid is looking forward to the matchup against Highland, which will begin Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., and also encouraged that the district is represented by two teams.
"It's always been a battle getting recognition for teams in this part of the state," Reid said. "But with both us and Miyamura getting in, it's hopefully a sign the committee is paying attention to our strength of schedule and the way we've played all season."
Complete tournament brackets, as well as information on how to watch the matches online, can be found on the NMAA website.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.