Lady Tigers' offense has turned up the heat

Matt Hollinshead,
Aztec's Autumn Peterson moves the ball going into attack formation down the field during the first half of the Tigers' District 1-5A match against Kirtland Central last Thursday at Fred Cook Stadium. Aztec clinches district with a win Thursday at Farmington.

AZTEC – The Aztec girls soccer team has kicked things up a notch on the scoring end.

The Lady Tigers have scored 50 of their 82 team goals during District 1-5A play alone, and multiple players are helping the cause.

And now they're one win away from their fourth district title in six years. They can clinch it by winning at Farmington in Thursday's key district bout due to head-to-head point differentials.

The Tigers currently lead the Scorpions by one game, with a two-goal advantage, for the top spot in district. The No. 1 seed in the 5A state playoffs also hangs in the balance.

"There's 11 seniors on the team this year. This is going to be our time. I definitely feel like with our last year, all of the girls are just taking it seriously," senior forward Alycea Aviles said. "The drive of the players has increased a lot more than it has in the past. Now we're just scoring nonstop. We're just trying to make a lot of runs on the sides and try to beat teams that way."

Aztec (14-2, 7-0) is getting additional cross passes in while attacking the box, which is enabling them to set up better scoring chances more often. The Tigers are burying goals on first and second-chance shot attempts.

"We have to dominate them whenever we have the chances. Whenever we play the tougher teams, we might not always get those chances. We want to put every ball away that we can," senior forward Autumn Peterson said. "We want to score right off the bat. Getting the first goals really helps us gain more confidence for the rest of the game."

Aztec is also able to plow through a blockade of defenders and create extra space going on the attack.

"If we get off the ball, then we have more opportunities. I think it does help in that situation, especially when that player has three people on them (and) gets away from them," Peterson said.

Peterson, Aviles, Grace Olson, Autumn Roundy and Kaylee Madewell all have scored 10-plus goals this season.

"We're playing for the open shot, not necessarily to one person. Some games, one person's going to have a better game. Some other person's off, the other one picks up the slack and scores," coach Kelly Kelso said. "We can pretty much score (against) any team in the state. If we play Cleveland or Cibola, I think we could score one or two goals."

Aztec certainly likes its chances at taking district behind its current scoring surge.

"Everybody has that fire in their stomach to just keep pushing," Aviles said.

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