All MacKenzie Douglas has to do is keep the ball out of the goal

Chapter 2 of the Cleveland-Rio Rancho soccer rivalry will be played out Saturday, with the Storm’s boys and girls soccer teams sitting in the District 1-5A drivers’ seats as those contests began at 11 a.m. (The boys meet at Cleveland; the girls square off at Rio Rancho.).

Thanks to a loss by the RRHS boys team Wednesday evening at the APS soccer complex, their path to a district championship had another road block — a 1-5A loss — placed in front of it.

In their first district meetings of the season, the Storm boys had beaten the Rams 3-2 and the Storm girls had prevailed over the Rams, 1-0.

Coach Shaun Gill’s boys and coach Greg Rusk’s girls recently completed the first half of the district season with unblemished 4-0 records. Yesterday’s contests with the Rams — the boys played at CHS, the girls played at RRHS — thus began the second half of the district campaigns.

Needless to say, victories in both rivalry games meant much more to the Rams than the Storm, assured of no worse than a tie atop the district standings.

Next week, the Storm teams face Atrisco Heritage Academy on Wednesday and Cibola on Saturday; their regular seasons conclude Wednesday, Oct. 24, vs. Volcano Vista.

The Rams face Volcano Vista on Wednesday, their only 1-5A games of the week. The RRHS boys are home Friday at 6 to face coach John Shepard’s alma mater, Los Alamos.

The Rams teams then have district contests remaining with Cibola and AHA on Oct. 24 and 27, respectively.

Before Wednesday’s games, the CHS boys were ranked second in the state, regardless of class; the Rams boys were No. 5. La Cueva was No. 1.

The CHS girls were ranked seventh, while the Rams were not among the top 10. Centennial, 15-0 and the only unbeaten team in the state (boys or girls), was No. 1.


On Sept. 29, the Storm routed Atrisco Heritage Academy 11-0 at the APS soccer complex. Against the Jaguars, the Storm got hat tricks from Jenna Mendez and Jennifer Mueller, plus two goals from Madyson Barela and a goal apiece from McKenna Ford, Brooklyn Galler and Isabel Castaneda, bombarding the AHA goalkeeper with 17 shots by game’s end. Game’s end, by the way, was halftime, with the Storm’s final tallies by Mueller and Mendez, both unassisted, coming in the last minute of the first half.

The Storm followed that up with a 3-1 victory over visiting Cibola on Oct. 3 and then a hard-fought 2-1 win over Volcano Vista, also visiting Lightning Bolt Field, last Saturday.

Facing the Cougars, Barela scored the lone goal of the first half. Following a second-half goal by the Cougars’ Sydni Burrup, Mueller, with an assist from Barela, followed by a late goal by Barela, from about 35 yards out, gave the Storm an insurance goal.

In their game vs. the VVHS Hawks, Barela gave the Storm a 1-0 lead before many of the fans had been seated, but Natalia Bruciaga knotted the game at 1 in the 10th minute.

 Alexis Nuñez netted what turned out to be the game-winner with 15 minutes to go before halftime, and neither team scored in the final 55 minutes — although both had opportunities.

MacKenzie Douglas came up with nine saves for the Storm; the lone Hawks goal had burned her when she came out to beat Bruciaga to the ball, only to see Bruciaga win that race and neatly loft the ball over her head.

Through the first half of 1-5A action, the Storm (10-4, 4-0) have outscored their opponents 17-2.

“In our district, the home games are extremely important because the road games are more difficult than the state championship games,” Rusk said. “(Volcano Vista) and Cibola are the best teams we’ve seen this year, and we’ve seen two other excellent ones in La Cueva and Centennial, let alone Eldorado, who beat us 3-1.”


Cleveland High’s Jacob Lent-Koop and Jairo Barreras each scored goals in the first half and again in the second half, when Luke Beachler added a goal in a 5-0 rout of visiting Atrisco Heritage Academy on Sept. 29. Scoring leader Gabe Legendre had three assists in the contest; Lent-Koop also added an assist.

“They strike the ball well, they’re organized, they’re well-coached,” CHS coach Shaun Gill said of the Jaguars. “We worked on some things, came in with the effort we needed and finished our chances.”

Ryan Watson kept the ball out of the net for the game’s first 66 minutes, and Andreas Chacon-McGee completed the shutout — the Storm‘s fifth whitewashing of the season.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Gill said.

The Storm remained where Gill wanted them to be after a 5-1 victory over Cibola at the APS soccer complex on Oct. 3, followed by a 3-2 victory at Volcano Vista last Saturday afternoon.

Nicholas Legendre and Barreras each had a pair of goals in the win over the Cougars, with Gabe Legendre also scoring.

Then, after trailing 2-0 at the break on the VVHS grass, the Storm (13-3, 4-0) got back-to-back second-half goals from Gabe Legendre, with his brother Nicholas assisting on each, and the game-winner from Barreras, assisted by Gabe Legendre, in the 79th minute.


On Sept. 29, the Rams girls gave up a first-half goal and a second-half goal in a 2-0 loss to visiting Volcano Vista. Hailey Howes played the entire game in goal, making 11 saves against the Hawks.

The Rams then lost their third game by shutout in a row — they’d lost their 1-5A opener, 1-0, to Cleveland — after a 4-0 loss to Cibola at the APS soccer complex last Saturday.

RRHS (7-8, 1-3) finally put a stop to the offensive woes with an 11-0 rout of visiting Atrisco Heritage Academy Wednesday evening, led by six goals from senior Emma Juarez and a hat trick from junior Sydney Saxon. Lauren Curtis also scored for the Rams, who blasted 35 shots at the AHA ‘keeper. Due to the 10-goal mercy rule, the game ended after about 66 minutes.

As has happened often, Howes and Tessa Holderman shared goalkeeping duties, although there wasn’t much for them to do: AHA managed only two shots on goal, and Howes had her team’s only save.


The Rams boys got two goals and a pair of assists from Payton Sandoval in their important 5-2 triumph on Sept. 29 at Volcano Vista. Sandoval assisted on his team’s first two goals, by Nick Acosta and Lamar Bynum, and then he tallied the Rams’ third and fourth goals. 

Javier Reyna’s tally in the 74th minute gave the Rams some breathing room, following Sandoval’s goals.

“We finally put together a good, complete game, and we were mentally tough,” coach John Shepard told the Albuquerque Journal.

After a week off, the Rams drubbed Cibola 7-1 at RRHS last Saturday. Sandoval, Preston Gunn and David “Thumper” Hite had two goals apiece and Israel Aguilar chipped in with one.

The Rams (10-4-1, 2-2) spotted Atrisco Heritage Academy a 2-0 lead in the first half Wednesday evening, then battled back to make it a one-goal game after Sandoval found the back of the net in the 59th minute.

But that would be as close as the Rams would get, despite a furious late-game attack.