Versatile Horsemen overrun Prep in 5-0 win
The team the St. Michael’s Horsemen wanted to be for the past two years is finally here.
The Horsemen needed a half to figure out how to exploit Santa Fe Prep in both teams’ District 2-1A/3A boys soccer season opener Saturday at Brennand Field. They went from simply possessing the ball to hitting the Blue Griffins with deep balls to use their speed, and they scored four goals in the second half to secure a 5-0 win.
That St. Michael’s (6-4-1) changed styles in mid-game was a sign of its versatility. That ability was there over the past two seasons, but injuries kept it bottled up like a fine wine. The Horsemen finally uncorked it this year.
“It’s really fun because you can beat them in so many ways, they are never going to be ready for it,” said
St. Michael’s junior midfielder Berkeley Reynolds, who scored two goals an had an assist. “If you are versatile, you’re hard to defend.”
While St. Michael’s might be hard to defend, the Horsemen have found it hard to score at times during the season. In a 2-1 loss to Pojoaque in the final match of Taos’ Sangre de Cristo Classic, they peppered the Elks with 22 shots and 10 on goal. In losses to Capital on Tuesday and Taos two days later, St. Michael’s combined for
15 shots, but scored just once.
Against the Blue Griffins, St. Michael’s recorded 13 shots on goal and turned that into five goals — a much better ratio. Horsemen head coach Mike Feldewert was happy that one goal came on a corner kick — something his team is trying to improve upon.
“We had a number of good other opportunities, so it’s good to see,” Feldewert said. “Those set pieces are important product for your game because you have those in your arsenal. If you can convert one or two of those, it makes things easier.”
Prep (1-6) matched the Horsemen in possessions in the first half and trailed only 1-0, but the combination of the Horsemen adjustments and the relative inexperience and fatigue on Prep’s part led to the onslaught.
“I would say it was a balance of all three things,” Blue Griffins head coach Hersch Wilson said. “They outplayed us in the second half. The came out and played hard. The 1-0 score at the half? We say we won the first half.”
St. Michael’s defense stiffened in the second half as goalkeeper Isaiah Vigil didn’t face a shot to record his third shutout.
All of those whitewashes have come over the last eight matches, as the Horsemen allowed just nine goals, compared to six in the first three.
“These are the matches we have to crackdown on defensively,” Vigil said. “We got to try to cut out those fluke goals that happen. Most of the fluke goals we’ve given up were because of miscommunication between me and my defense. We’ve been working on that, and the good thing is we don’t make the same mistake. Once it happens, we learn form it and adjust.”
St. Michael’s heads Tuesday to Bullhead Park in Albuquerque to take on Oak Grove Classical Academy, but the three matches after that will indicate just where it stands on the 1A/3A ladder.
The Horsemen entertain Albuquerque Bosque School on Friday, then Las Vegas Robertson and Albuquerque Sandia Prep come to town on Oct. 2 and 4.
Santa Fe Prep 1, St. Michael’s 0
Round 1 goes to the Blue Griffins. A goal by Hayden Colfax midway through the second half accounted for all the scoring, but the Prep defense had to make some big plays down the stretch to win the 2-1A/3A opener at Christian Brothers Athletic Complex.
Defender Taylor Lincoln cleared a ball that hugged the goal line in the final seconds to prevent overtime, and Blue Griffins head coach Steph Coppola lauded the defensive effort.
“It was such a mature, seasoned, senior moment for [Lincoln],” Coppola said. “And I don’t mean ‘senior moment’ in that way. It was really cool. She read the play and committed to it and had to be there. It was not our prettiest game. I don’t know if we truly settled down and played soccer the way we wanted to.”
The speed of the Lady Horsemen forced Prep to drop a fourth defender to the back line to slow down their attack and made the match more of a defensive battle for the Blue Griffins. Coppola, though, said Prep had to find ways to attack to keep St. Michael’s honest, and the thru-ball that Colfax turned into a goal into the lower near post was an example of that.
“You need somebody to push forward,” Coppola said. “That’s always the trick. You have to put pressure on their defensive third or you have a hard time staying in the game.”
Prep faces another challenge Tuesday when Albuquerque Bosque School, the top-ranked team in 1A/3A according to the MaxPreps.com Freeman rankings, comes to Sun Mountain Field for a district match.