Before the Taos-Bloomfield girls soccer contest Saturday (Sept. 22), Tiger coach Michael Hensley was scratching his head as to how to deploy his deeply depleted team.
“I started looking for JV players in the parking lot who might fill in,” he said, only half-joking. “But they are a resilient bunch.”
Despite having only two substitutes for the whole game, Hensley and his highly ranked Taos team took it to the Bobcats from the opening whistle, scoring six goals in the first half and ending with a lopsided 9-0 win.
The victory pushed the Taos record to 10-1 on the season, 4-0 in A/AAA District 1 play.
Senior Jacquelyn Valerio, who was moved to forward in Hensely’s jury-rigged lineup, led the scoring parade with four goals to raise her season total to seven. Freshman Lucia Constanza had a hat trick, giving her 12 goals so far this season.
“They played a high defensive line, so we had chances for lots of through-balls,” said Constanza, who helped Taos control the midfield throughout the contest. “But I think we got a little tired in the second half.”
Leading goal scorer Angelica Pacheco chipping in two goals to bring her total to 16 for the season.
The Bobcats came into the contest without a victory in the season, having lost nine games including a 6-0 defeat to Taos a week ago in Bloomfield. They managed 10 shots in the direction of the Taos goal, but Tiger goalkeeper Katie Emery had only three saves — none of which seriously challenged the Taos goal. It took the Bobcats more than 18 minutes to muster a shot against a Tiger team that has allowed only nine goals this season.
“I thought we played well, especially with so few players,” said captain Emery. “We were checking to the ball and winning in the air. In the second half, we did give up more space than we wanted to.”
Because of his short bench and a hot day at Taos Eco-Park, Hensley began a liberal substitution pattern around the 20:00 mark of the first half. He could be heard to tell several players to, “Go to the shade and get some water.” But the Tigers’ superior ball-handling skills kept a valiant but overmatched Bloomfield team on its heels.
At the start of the second half, Taos came out with a revamped lineup but appeared lethargic. Not surprisingly, the Bobcats played their best ball during the first 10 minutes of the half and mustered several decent chances at goal. Hensley adjusted his lineup back to what is was in the first half, resulting in the final three goals in the last 28 minutes of the match.
“Our defense had a good passing game,” said defender Sarah Pyatt. “We worked together and moved the ball around. As for the second half, it was hard to pinpoint why we didn’t play as well. We didn’t pass as much, but it was hot and we didn’t have many subs.”
The victory topped off a strong week for Taos, which knocked off Moreno Valley, 4-0, on Monday (Sept. 17) and Santa Fe Prep, 3-2, the following day.
Follow us on Twitter