New class and district alignment for the upcoming school year shifts the dynamics of the girls soccer landscape
FARMINGTON — With class realignment taking affect this school year, the District 1-5A crown for girls soccer is available for the taking.
The new district features six teams after Bloomfield and Kirtland Central were added. Those schools moved up from District 1-A/4A to join Aztec, Farmington, Miyamura and Gallup. Piedra Vista graduated to District 1-6A.
Bloomfield and Kirtland come into the season under second-year coaches Shannon Nygren and Chad Kimball, respectively. The two programs saw new levels of success under the direction of those new coaches, and both scored an upset in the first round of the A/4A state tournament to advance to the quarterfinals.
Bloomfield is set to return the vast majority of its leadership and production from last season’s 7-14 squad that lost just two players, both defenders, who saw regular time on the field.
Back to bolster the Bloomfield attack will be senior Teagan Mosley, who scored 18 goals a year ago. Nygren said this year the team has been working on its attack to help take some of the scoring pressure off Mosley.
“We’re trying something different this year with Vanessa Harris. She's our center midfielder who's really quick and has a good touch,” Nygren said. “Last year, she tried to play a little more defense than offense, and we’re trying to put her in more of an offensive position.”
KC finished last season 9-13 to earn the No. 10 seed in the state tourney, but similar to FHS, KC was senior laden in 2015 and saw 10 players move on after graduation.
Kimball said he expects this season to be a rebuilding process after losing so much to graduation while adding that it will allow the team to create its own identity.
Back to pace KC this season will be senior Nikki Begay and junior Christine Young, who were the team’s top two goal scorers a year ago. Kimball said he’s also looking to freshman keeper Jayden Guillory, who he said showed a lot of promise playing as an eighth-grader last season.
Aztec was set to return the bulk of its roster from last year’s 13-7 team after six players graduated. But the team suffer a substantial blow after a handful of players elected not to compete this season.
Aztec got its season started before any other area team, playing two games over the weekend in St. George, Utah. Aztec dropped both games, losing 2-0 to Dixie High and 9-1 to Snow Canyon.
Farmington was nearly untouchable last season, posting a 19-3 record and outscoring opponents 97-12. But the roster was overhauled after 12 seniors graduated, including co-district players of the year in Hannah Kelly and Bailey Carter.
Last season also saw the departure of head coach Shannon Gill, which opened the position to new head coach Brynn Cochran.
PV faces stout competition in move to 6A
Piedra Vista went from playing in arguably the toughest district in 5A last season to unquestionably the toughest district in 6A this season. The move to 6A places PV, which finished last season 11-10, in District 1-6A with Cleveland, Rio Ranch, Volcano Vista and Cibola, the defending 6A champs. The four programs were seeded No. 4 through No. 7 in last year’s 6A state tournament, and they combined to lose just 19 seniors from their 2015 rosters.
PV head coach Adam Huff said one of the biggest adjustments his team will have make this season is to the speed of the opposition.
“The pace of play is something we’ve been talking about all summer, and we’ve really been driving it home the last couple weeks in practice,” Huff said.
Back to lead PV this season will be midfielder Makeyan Kalmbach and forward Hannah Sayyeau, who were the top two scorers for PV last season with 12 and 10 goals, respectively.
Navajo Prep poised for run in new-look District 1-A/4A
Navajo Prep will be back in District 1-A/4A this season, but the program is one of only two holdovers — Rehoboth Christian being the other — in the district following realignment. Bloomfield and KC left the district after moving up to 5A, and soccer powerhouses Hope Christian, Sandia Prep and Bosque were moved to different districts in A/4A.
Desert Academy and the Academy for Technology and the Classics join Prep and Rehoboth Christian in District 1-A/4A, which should be much more competitive across the board. Prep finished last season 2-17-1, going 0-12 in district play. No team in the new district recorded more than six wins last season, leaving each team with a chance to win the title this year.
“I think this new district is more competitive for us, and we’ll have a better chance of winning the district this year than we’ve had the last four years of going up against the powerhouses,” Prep coach Stacy Irwin said. “We have some players that could help us make a run for this year, and the girls know it.”
Coaches from Aztec and Farmington could not be reached for comment.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.