Lady Warriors improve to 2-0 in district play

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On Sept. 22 the Socorro Lady Warriors soccer team took on a talented Robertson team with only 10 girls, as opposed the regularly slated 11. Bryn Botko hurt her ankle that day, and despite her best effort to rejoin her squad on the pitch, the injury was just too severe.

On Sept. 25, Socorro played Silver, again a girl down, and on Thursday, Sept. 27, the Lady Warriors were once more forced to take the pitch short one player, this time against Hatch Valley.

And on each occasion, Socorro walked off the pitch victorious. Talk about a confidence booster.

"Oh sure. I can be happy with that," head coach Mitch Carrejo said with a smile.

The Lady Warriors, undoubtedly playing their best soccer of the season, victimized the Fighting Colts 7-0 on Tuesday, and on Thursday they dealt with the Bears, also in convincing fashion, by a score of 9-1.

It also didn't hurt that Dezirae Armijo, already the state's all-time leading goal-scorer, recorded her 200th career goal on Thursday, a whopping 27 goals more than the previous state record.

"I'm proud of it. It's crazy," she said. "It's hard to process."

What's not hard to process is the level of play this team has displayed over the course of September, now reeling off five straight victories en route to an 11-3 record, and 2-0 in District 3/A-AAA play.

But playing great soccer or not, don't expect the Lady Warriors to get too comfortable anytime soon, because Carrejo surely won't let them.

"We're just trying to get better," he said. "We're trying to get the girls to settle down, be fast but play under control. It's a work in progress. We're improving a little bit."

And that improvement is still taking place with a defensive backfield that is further proving itself on a game by game basis, despite some occasional hiccups.

For example, Socorro's last three home matches, including Thursday's with Hatch Valley, have seen the Lady Warriors go up early by two goals, and each match the defense has given up a cheap goal just minutes thereafter.

However, that's all rather explainable given Socorro's defensive line-up. Carrejo reiterated, "Our three defenders are two eighth graders and a freshman."

Those young guns have allowed just four goals in the team's last three games, and again, minus a defensive player.

"It's just inexperience. We've just got to get that mental aspect. Once we get that second goal, we cannot let up," Carrejo said. "With these young girls, they're not used to that. They're still kind of learning the ropes. We've just got to get aggressive. We just have to clean up our mistakes, and like I said, that's just experience."

What experience Socorro does possess though, is clearly showing up on the stat line.

Armijo had three scores and five assists, while Dominique Molina added four goals. Ashley Nash and Amanda Saenz chipped in one goal apiece. Ezrah Jaramillo tossed in an assist, while Jeriana Contreras displayed her superior ball-handling skills in tallying two assists and consistently keeping possession for her team.

"She's crazy good with the ball," Carrejo said of Contreras. "She's got some moves that are unbelievable out there. Dribbling skills, she's head and shoulders with anybody, probably in 3A."

But there's good news and bad news for Socorro still. The good news is that they've now proven they can compete in district with only 10 players. The bad news is they might have to do that for a few more weeks. There's no official timetable for Botko's return, and Damiana Contreras remains out with a knee injury.

That might look daunting for most squads, but luckily for Socorro their next five scheduled opponents have a combined record of 12-36.

And at this point it might be safe to say that the Lady Warriors aren't looking that far ahead.

"I'm just proud of my team," Armijo said. "I'm just so proud of them."

Socorro's next two matches are on the road at Ruidoso and Deming, respectively, then it will return to Eddie Castaneda Field on Thursday, Oct. 11, when it will play host to Silver.