Navajo Prep building foundation for winning program

Lady Eagles soaring after first playoff victory

Matt Hollinshead,
Navajo Prep's Mya Benally passes the ball down the left side against Rehoboth Christian during Saturday's A-3A girls soccer playoff opener at Eagle Stadium in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Navajo Prep is quickly building something special on the soccer pitch.

A foundation. A sustainable foundation.

That’s what coach Stacy Irwin envisioned when he started the program from scratch back in 2010.

Fast forward to 2018, and the Lady Eagles have soared to considerable heights.

First came their first-ever playoff match playing at Hope Christian in 2017. Prep lost 10-0, but it was far from the end of the story.

The Lady Eagles made state again this year for back-to-back playoff appearances and will play their first-ever home playoff match on Saturday.

Prep beat Rehoboth Christian 4-0 on Saturday, marking its first playoff win in program history.

”Kind of like a puzzle, we put the pieces together. It just feels real good,” Irwin said. “It just seems like we just keep striving further and further and further.”

As these last two seasons progressed, player chemistry grew. Players are communicating with each other more effectively, and they’re getting better touches on the ball. It began with the juniors and seniors, but that influence trickled down to the freshmen and sophomores quickly.

“I watched the seniors (last year), and it really got me to motivate (myself and others). It’s like a domino effect. People grow stronger,” said midfielder Shaynia Jackson.

Prep (11-6-3) will take on Socorro in the A-3A quarterfinals 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex.

“We put 120 percent onto the field, and we just want to keep going,” midfielder Kaieyah Boyd said. “This program is growing. It’s going very far. We have high expectations.”

And the Eagles look to keep on building, whether they get past the quarterfinals now or if that time comes in 2019.

The foundation is taking shape, and many key players will have at least one or two more years to help see it through.

“These girls, they’re setting a precedent,” Irwin said. “This is what the program can be.”

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