Nikki Begay helps Kirtland advance into state quarterfinals

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FARMINGTON — Playing in one of the most competitive districts in the state for girls soccer has paid off for local 1-4A teams thus far in this year’s state tournament.

Today, 10th-seeded Kirtland Central outlasted No. 7 East Mountain 2-1 on the road to advance to the 4A state quarterfinals. The upset came less than 24 hours after No. 11 Bloomfield topped No. 6 Taos.

Fellow District 1-4A squads Hope Christian, Sandia Prep and Bosque have been powerhouses this season, and are seeded first, fourth and fifth, respectively. Dealing with that level of competition on a weekly basis has Bloomfield and Kirtland Central flying under the radar as the state tourney heats up.

Christine Young of the Lady Broncos (9-12, 5-7) broke a scoreless tie 35 minutes into today’s contest by capping a series of crisp passes between her and Nikki Begay with a goal.

Begay then scored five minutes later by finishing a ball on a throw-in. The junior has been a rock for the team, according to KC coach Chad Kimball.

“We can always depend on her to do whatever is necessary to help the team win,” Kimball said of Begay. “When we were down a couple of defenders and needed to shore up our defense, she stepped in and played great. And, of course, she’s a great offensive player for us.”

KC shot itself in the foot just before the half by scoring on its own net and letting the Lady Timberwolves (15-6, 4-0 District 4-4A) back into the game. A ball deflected off the shin guard of a Lady Bronco defender and into the goal to make it 2-1.

But that miscue would be the last score of the afternoon, as KC was able to maintain the slim lead for the entire second half.

KC will play No. 2 Socorro (19-0-1, 4-0 District 3-4A) at 6 p.m. Thursday in Albuquerque. Kimball said he’s excited to get another crack at the Lady Warriors, who beat his team 3-2 in overtime on Sept. 12.

“We know what they bring to the table,” he said. “We know we can play with them, we’ve proven that. Now we just have to prove we can close out a game against them.”

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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