The Taos Tigers soccer team performance was by no means perfect when they faced Pojoaque Valley on the road on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 22).
The Taos Tigers soccer team performance was by no means perfect when they faced Pojoaque Valley on the road on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 22). There were mistakes, especially on the defensive side, and at times a lack of focus.
But in the end, the Tigers prevailed as they would go on to defeat the Elks, 11-2, in a district matchup on the road. Taos has just one game remaining this season - an away matchup with Moriarty, a team the Tigers beat once already this season.
Pojoaque Valley had control of the ball at the start of the match, but Taos quickly changed that. Not once did the Tigers necessarily look outmatched, but a lack of focus which was visible through body language - not being in the right place defensively and, in some ways, a lack of respect for their opponent - helped the Elks get going on offense.
Pojoaque Valley was able to score within just 13 minutes when Cristian Holguin succeeded on a deflection off the Taos goalie, Milo Collignon.
But while the Tigers had trouble on the defensive end, scoring wasn't much of a problem for them. Keane Roske, a senior midfielder, scored just a minute into the game for Taos - and then again a couple minutes after that.
With just a few minutes left in the first half, Holguin scored again for the Elks. This time, though, there were some Taos defenders in the area but Holguin split their defense and drove down the middle for a clean shot on goal.
By the end of the frame, the Tigers managed to score six goals all courtesy of Roske and Alex Waggoner. Both players had three goals apiece in that time, putting Taos up 6-2 early on.
"The first half wasn't great," Taos captain Charles Bayles said at the conclusion of the match. He added that, during the break, head coach Michael Hensley told the team that they needed to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball.
And they listened.
In the second half, Taos controlled the ball on offense the way the team is accustomed to. And on defense, the Tigers were in the right place at the right time. Because of that, Holguin was a nonfactor for Pojoaque Valley in the last 40 minutes of action.
After a couple shots on goal that failed to hit the back of the net, Waggoner found Roske on a nice seam pass before Roske struck toward the goal with precision and made the shot just 15 minutes into the half.
Waggoner was able to find the back of the net in the second half, but two others for Taos added goals, too, in Aidan Heflin and Nialo Kinney.
For Taos, Roske led the team with five goals. Waggoner added four of his own, while both Heflin and Kinney each had one of their own.
As of press time, the Tigers hold an overall record of 14-2-1 and a district record of 4-1. With one match left in the regular season, the Tigers are in a prime position to be seeded for the state tournament.
"We're a resilient team, and I feel like we picked it up in the second half," Bayles said.
When asked if he thinks Taos can compete against some of the better teams in the state come tournament time, a smile came across Bayles' face. "If we show up and play how we can play, there's no reason we can't," he said.
The Taos girls soccer team shut out Pojoaque Valley on Tuesday (Oct. 22) on the road, 6-0, as they played both sides of the ball efficiently - especially in the second half.
From the start, Taos controlled the ball and kept the Elkettes out of scoring territory. But the Tigers did have some trouble on their passes early on, which in turn made it hard for them to get in prime scoring position.
Taos had a few clean shots on goal early on, but either missed high or had the shot blocked by the Pojoaque Valley goalkeeper.
But the Lady Tigers were able to score on one occasion. About seven minutes into the game, Ava Gerken, an eighth-grader, had a clean shot near the middle of the penalty box and struck it toward the back of the net, putting Taos up 1-0 before the half.
Cassandra Ruiz, a captain and senior for the Lady Tigers, rolled her ankle in the first half and didn't play the rest of the match for precautionary reasons.
"I think that we weren't really looking at how narrow the field was," Kelly Tonrey, a junior and captain, said of her team's play in the first half. "And we kept passing it straight to the other team."
The Lady Tigers came out into the second half rejuvenated.
Rose Marie van Willigen scored from the left side just a couple minutes in. She would then score again a few minutes after that when her shot hit the side of the goal and trickled in behind the Elkettes goalkeeper.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Taos had completely taken over.
Lilly Henderson dribbled the ball down the left side of the field before passing it to Anabelle Caldwell, who scored on an open shot towards the goal.
All three players who scored for Taos were eighth-graders. Van Willigen had a game-high three goals, Caldwell had two goals and Gerken had one goal.
"I think we did really good at finding feet and passing around the [Elkettes] players," Ruiz said, when asked what her team did right.
Taos will now face Moriarty on Thursday (Oct. 24) in its last district matchup.
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