Girls soccer: Blue Griffins beat Bernalillo, get shot at snapping losing streak against St. Michael’s

October 30, 2016 GMT

With the clock on her high school soccer career winding perilously close to its end, Olivia Lenfesty is looking forward to getting one final chance to do something she’s been trying to do for years.

That’s to beat St. Michael’s.

“What is that, nine or 10 games in a row?” she said, ticking off the years of losing battles against the Lady Horsemen.

Well, Lenfesty will get one last shot to beat the crosstown rival thanks to a two-goal effort Saturday afternoon against Bernalillo in the opening round of the Class 1A/4A State Tournament at Sun Mountain Field. The sixth-seeded Blue Griffins’ 3-0 shutout sends them into next week’s quarterfinals against No. 3 St. Michael’s.

By Lenfesty’s tally, she has never beaten the Lady Horsemen since joining Prep’s varsity. Doing so now, on the state’s biggest stage, would be a blessing in ways that would eliminate the misery of a long career spent on the short end of the scoreboard.

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“Thinking about it, I’m just happy to have my team get this far and get one more game,” she said. “Every game it could all be over, so it changes the way you think, you know?”

Prep scored twice in the opening minutes of Saturday’s match, carrying a 2-0 lead into the second half before an insurance goal ended the suspense. Most of the action took place at Bernalillo’s end of the field, making for a busy day between the posts for Lady Spartans’ goalkeeper Mia Montano.

She made a handful of impressive saves, including a diving stop to her left on a penalty kick late in the second half.

“She’s a college-level keeper and, yeah, she’s fun to watch,” said Santa Fe Prep head coach Steph Coppola. “We were getting our chances but [Montano] was doing a great job keeping them in it.”

Prep had sophomore Lark O’Hora spend most of the game in goal while eighth-grader Allison Kice came on for the final 20 minutes. Only occasionally did Bernalillo’s offense manage a sustained attack.

The fact that her team, which still has several underclassmen playing key positions, is still alive with a shot at a team that has owned them over the years says a lot about the development of her program, Coppola said.

“We’re still inexperienced in a lot of ways but to have this team come along the way it has does make me proud of everything they’ve done,” she said. “I think it’s good to get this win and move on because it validates, in a lot of ways, the quality of our game. Some of our recent results have not been supportive of what we’ve been doing all season, but coming out here today and winning a game like this says a lot.”

At 12-7 overall, the Blue Griffins were swept in two matches during the regular season by St. Michael’s, dropping a 1-0 overtime decision at home and then getting drubbed 6-1 in the final two weeks. It’s been so long since Prep has won the intracity rivalry that Coppola can’t recall exactly when it happened.

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“2011 I think,” she said. “We’ve had some tough years against them but if we can come out and play some purposeful soccer and avoid mistakes, I think we can give them a game. It’s like that Miracle on Ice thing I need someone to say, ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ ”

To take that next step, Lenfesty said it will take the kind of effort literally unseen in these parts in years. It does help, she said, that it’s a familiar face this time around.

“It is definitely a motivator,” she said. “I mean, I’ve lost to them every game. That’s all this next week is about, just practicing and finding the extra motivation.”

Thursday’s match will coincide with the other three quarterfinals for 1A/4A and start at 9:30 a.m. at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex.

Eight of the top nine seeds advanced, the lone exception being No. 8 Moriarty, which lost to No. 9 Las Vegas Robertson, 2-1, on Saturday.

Robertson faces No. 1 Sandia Prep while No. 4 Socorro gets No. 5 Bosque. Those winners will play in Friday’s semifinals.

The lower half of the bracket has Prep and St. Michael’s facing the winner of the No. 2-Hope and No. 7-Taos contest.

PREP NOTES

Help wanted: Anika Amon has stepped down as the girls basketball coach at Santa Fe Prep. A graduate of the school, she is currently an assistant coach on the girls’ soccer team.

She said Saturday she’s taking time to spend with her family and concentrate on her private business. She was Prep’s head coach for girls basketball for nine years.