Lady Eagles to play in first home playoff match

Matt Hollinshead,
Bloomfield's Natalia Eveland and Navajo Prep's Kaieya Boyd battle for possession of the ball during a non-district match on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Eagle Stadium. Prep will host its first-ever state playoff match against Rehoboth Christian.

FARMINGTON – The Navajo Prep Lady Eagles continue make giant strides since their inception in 2010, the latest hosting their first-ever playoff match in this year’s A/3A girls soccer tournament.

Prep (10-6-3, 6-0) earned the No. 7 seed and will host district foe and 10th seeded Rehoboth Christian.

“They’ve been pushing for a home game. They’re ecstatic having a first-round playoff (home match). This is going to be exciting for us,” Prep coach Stacy Irwin said. “That’s something we talked about during practice. It’d just fire them up. I think they’re mentally ready.”

Prep’s won back-to-back district titles in 2017 and 2018. The Lady Eagles’ key results this year include three straight draws against A/3A’s East Mountain and 4A’s Taos and Bernalillo during the opening weekend, as well as a double-overtime win over Bloomfield.

Despite losing to Hope Christian in its first-ever playoff match last year, Irwin said that experience made his squad mentally tougher entering this year.

Irwin also said it helped Prep’s midfielders learn to play even more aggressively, attacking the net, and to stretch the field more going on the attack.

Aztec girls will also host opener

The Lady Tigers (11-8-1, 7-0-1) return to state yet again, earning the No. 5 seed in the 4A bracket. AHS will host No. 12 seed Santa Teresa in the first round.

AHS Despite a 2-5 start to 2018, the Lady Tigers went 9-3-1 the rest of the way and cruised to the District 1-4A title.

Aztec boys, Farmington girls also reach playoffs

The Tigers earned the No. 10 seed in the 4A boys bracket and will play at No. 7 seed Hope Christian in the first round.

The Lady Scorpions (12-7, 3-5) earned the 11th seed in the 5A girls bracket and will play at No. 6 seed Albuquerque High in the opening round. FHS’ key wins in 2018 include Carlsbad, Aztec, Los Alamos and Rio Rancho.

Aztec coach Stephen Parks said he eyed hosting the 8/9 matchup, but is fine with traveling to Albuquerque instead of one of the southern New Mexico schools.

Nevertheless, AHS (10-7-2, 8-0) earned its spot at state after winning this year’s District 1-4A title.

“It’s always good to be going into state with some confidence with those wins,” Parks said. “The boys, they didn’t seem to be disappointed (with the No. 10 seed) at all. They’re just ready to go play that first playoff game. When you come in as the lower seed, you’ve got nothing to lose.”

All first-round matches will played Friday and Saturday.

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