NMMI Sports Press
On a cold and rainy day at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex in Albuquerque, NM, the second-seeded New Mexico Military Institute Colt soccer team survived a double overtime match against Tierra Encantada, downing the No. 7 seed in the quarterfinals of the Class A-AAA State Championships by a final score of 1-0.
Each team was held scoreless in the first half, but after the second half started, the game got a bit more physical. Tierra Encantada was carded twice early in the period, a red card to one of their top offensive threats at forward, and a yellow card to the goal keeper.
Down to just 10 players after the red card, the Alacranes focused on their defense, leaving just one striker to attack and playing everyone else back.
NMMI had plenty of shots on goal, 29 compared to just five by Tierra, but the Colts couldn’t find the back of the net during regulation play, nor in the first overtime period.
The scoreless drought continued well into the second OT period, and it looked like the Alacranes might get a break from being a man down - the next tie-breaker being penalty kicks - but with less than two minutes left, Daniel Angulo managed to boot in a shot off a crossing pass from Frank Olcott.
NMMI held on for the 1-0 win to move on to the semifinal round of the NMAA Class A-AAA State Championships.
“Proud of our team and their continued effort throughout the entire match,” said a relieved head Colt soccer coach John Barbour. “ It was a team effort tonight and I was happy we had a lot of unselfish play. We are looking at this as a business trip. We’re not done yet. We are going to take this one game at a time and get ready to face Sandia Prep tomorrow.”
The third-ranked Sun Devils from Sandia Prep advanced to the semis with a decisive 5-0 win over sixth-seeded Socorro, and were the team that knocked the Colts out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals last year with a 3-0 win.
Asked about what NMMI needs to do to down the ‘Devils, coach Barbour replied “We just need to keep playing our game and pressure them, and we can be successful. We need to respect them for who they are – a powerhouse program that is in the playoffs each and every year – but not get overwhelmed by that tradition and history.”
Barbour and his Colts are having one of the best seasons in recent history, considering both their 18-1-1 overall record and their advancement to the final four teams left at State. But the veteran coach, who’s been at the helm of the Colt soccer team for 14 years, said he knew this year’s team was special before the season even began. “Three days into practice, once I was able to assess talent – I knew that we had the weapons to do very well this season,” said Barbour. “Top to bottom, we had enough returning players for a great base, but with the incoming crop of new cadets, I knew we would have better depth than we'd ever had before.”
Barbour also said he’s been impressed by several players this season who have stepped up and who are continuing to get better and better with every match they play. “All the fullbacks, Kunal Camp, Colin Treat and Alec Poccia - those were the ones who have really surpassed my expectations,” said coach. “Plus all the JV players were able to add to the roster, they added even more depth and quality to this squad.”
In the semifinals, No. 2 NMMI will face No. 3 Sandia Prep tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 7) on Field 6 at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex at 12:30 pm. The winner will move on to play in the A-AAA State Championship game on Friday at 1:00 PM, against the winner of the match between No. 8 St. Michaels (who upended top-ranked Bosque 2-0) and No. 4 Monte Del Sol Charter, a prep school from Santa Fe, who rallied past Hatch Valley, 5-4.