Aztec knocks off Kirtland in district opener
KIRTLAND — The Aztec boys soccer team picked up its first win in a month, toppling Kirtland Central 6-1 in the District 1-5A opener tonight at Bronco Stadium.
“Everything that they did in the first half was what we’ve been working on all season. As coaches, it was really nice to see them playing the way we know they can play and continuing to get better as a team,” Aztec coach Stephen Parks said. “They started off strong and were moving the ball, and as a result we had a lot of goals in the first half.”
Senior Riley Barber struck first for the Tigers (3-6-1, 1-0 District 1-5A). After Aztec dominated the opening minutes of the game, the Tigers advanced the ball down the field with clean passing and found Barber down the left side of the field. Barber took one touch and put his shot past the KC keeper and inside the left post.
About four minutes later, Aztec’s Francisco Villegas made it 2-0.
In the 15th minute, Barber made a long throw from the left side that the Broncos (3-4, 0-1) failed to clear out of the box. With the failed clearance, the ball fell to Pedro Lucero, who poked it into the back of the net.
Barber added his second goal of the game in the 21st minute. After taking possession near midfield, Barber weaved his way through the Broncos’ defense and beat the keeper in another one-on-one situation.
In the final minute of the first half, Aztec’s Sam Parks extended the Tigers’ lead to 5-0. After Aztec drew a free kick on the left side of the field, Parks placed the shot from more than 30 yards out into the upper corner on the far post, just beyond the reach of the KC keeper.
The Broncos (3-4, 0-1 District 1-5A) had chances to score in the first half, getting deep into the Aztec defense on multiple occasions. But each time, the Tigers collapsed on the Broncos, thwarting any clean shots on goal.
KC coach Noel Camacho said the Broncos’ issues in the first half stemmed from a lack of intensity and also from the team’s hesitation to take quicker shots.
“I believe it’s all mental. They’re a way better team than they exhibited in the first half,” Camacho said. “We’re still not getting the shots we want on goal. I keep telling my forward to get shots on goal, and all he wants to do is dribble.”
The Tigers kept the goals coming in the second half. About five minutes in, Juan Vargas made a run down the center of the field, and after holding off a couple of KC defenders, he put the ball in the back of the net to make it a 6-0 game.
KC finally broke through about eight minutes into the second half. After working the ball down the right side of the field, the Broncos played a cross to Josiah Jenks on the left side. After taking one touch to settle the ball, Jenks put his shot on the far post, ricocheting in for the goal.
The goal seemed to spark the Broncos, who maintained possession better and threatened more regularly, putting more pressure on the Tigers to stop their relentless attack.
Aztec will host Bloomfield (0-9-1) on Thursday. Also on Thursday, KC will host Farmington (2-5, 1-0).
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.