Socorro continues to clean house on the pitch

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The Socorro Lady Warriors continued their dominance on the pitch Saturday morning when they used on offensive outburst in the second half to put away Rehoboth Christian High School, 5-0.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: Dez Armijo gets taken out by Rehoboth Christian’s Anna Cherney on Saturday during their non-district match. The play resulted in a successful penalty kick for Armijo which contributed to a 5-0 Socorro win.

The victory gives Socorro a 15-3 overall record and keeps in tact a winning streak that now spans nine games, but the victory against the Lynx didn’t exactly come easily.

The Lady Warriors were held scoreless until the 29th minute of the first half when Dezirae Armijo took a high kick to the face and was awarded a penalty kick opportunity. She eased the ball into the corner of the net for the match’s first goal and the Socorro faithful, so accustomed to watching their team score almost at will, seemed to breathe a small sigh of relief.

The Lynx attack had been threatening for much of the opening half, and when Mariah Miller glanced a shot off the crossbar 15 minutes in, the Lady Warriors were but an inch or so away from being behind in a match for the first time since Sept. 19 against Belen.

“I knew they were going to be good,” Socorro head coach Mitch Carrejo said of Rehoboth.

With District 3/A-AAA down in the talent pool a bit this year, Carrejo intentionally scheduled a school at this juncture in the season he knew would present a challenge for his team. Rehoboth presented that challenge, at least for 48 minutes, and the Lady Warriors rose to the occasion.

“The girls were really fired up,” Carrejo said. “I’ve been kind of telling them this was going to be our toughest game. It was just something to look forward to.”

Early on it appeared as though both teams were excited to be on the pitch with one another, and about the first half-hour of the match was a back and forth affair. Along with Miller’s consistent pressure, Rehoboth’s leading points-earner Tyra West used her quickness and aggressiveness to keep the Socorro defense, again playing down a defender, on its toes.

The Lady Warriors had multiple scoring opportunities themselves in the first 40 minutes, but even with all of their offensive power they just couldn’t seem to find that back of the net.

“We just didn’t finish for whatever reason,” Carrejo said. “Our passing was there. We were just not finishing.”

Lynx goalkeeper Destiny Laughlin might have been a huge reason behind that. She was nothing short of a force in goal for the visiting team, as she cast away at least six Socorro shots that would have been sure goals on many other days.

But you can’t keep a good thing down forever, and the same holds true with the Socorro offense.

The second half was a much different story than the first, and eight minutes into it Ezrah Jaramillo found Armijo on a lengthy through ball. The veteran streaker made good use of the pass and beat Laughlin to the right for a picture-perfect goal.

Twelve minutes later Jeriana Contreras rocketed in a goal of her own from 19 yards out to push the Socorro lead to 3-0, and Armijo closed out the scoring with another penalty kick, and then a run from the right side with nine minutes remaining to extend the lead to 5-0.

The offense inevitably got rolling eventually, but the defense proved once again, in spite of its youth, it can hunker down when it needs to. Socorro recorded its third consecutive shutout and ninth of the season.

“Our defense has stepped up. They played so well today,” Carrejo said. “It was nice to see them go aggressive to the ball. It’s just confidence for them. Once Bryn (Botko) went down, they knew they needed to step up even more, and they have.”

The Lady Warriors have two matches remaining on their regular season schedule, both District 3/A-AAA contests. It seems unlikely they should run into any trouble with either Hatch Valley or Ruidoso, so they’ll conceivably finish district at 6-0 and get to play for the league title at home as the top seed in the district tournament on Oct. 28-29.

“Now we’re ready to go,” Carrejo said.

Socorro plays at Hatch Valley on Oct. 16, then they’ll finish off the regular season at home on Oct. 25 against Ruidoso.