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Lady Coyotes look to upset top seed

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The Roswell High School girls soccer team is seen in action earlier this season at the Cielo Grande Soccer Complex. (David Rocha Photo)

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Roswell Coyote coach Samantha Ward is starting to build a resume of giant slayer. Her team has defeated conference rivals and four-time district champ Goddard and district leading Artesia this season.

All this while being two games behind in the loss column to Artesia. With the district crown seemingly over for the Lady Coyotes, they ripped off a six-game winning streak to get to this point in the season.

To continue their Cinderella march to Ward’s first state title as a coach, she must transform her team today from Cinderella into giant killers in a matter of hours to defeat the No.1 team in District 4-5A Albuquerque Academy.

“We are playing the No. 1 team in District 4-5A,” Ward said, “but that doesn’t faze us. We are focused and ready to play. We have nothing to lose; they have everything to lose.”

These teams are no strangers to competing against each other. Last year, the Lady Coyotes faced off against the Chargers in the Academy tournament. Roswell was winning, 1-0, before the Chargers scored a goal before half to tie the game, 1-1. The Lady Coyotes would surrender three goals to lose, 4-1.

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“Our team played them last year,” Ward said. “Last year, we were ranked No. 6 and over half of our team that played last year is back. They have seen this level. They know teams are bigger and faster, but that doesn’t take away our passion and pride that we play with.”

Whether the Coyotes win or lose, there is much going on in the program that is not seen. Ward and her coaches, Urbano Sosa and Ryan Davenport, are interested in developing every young woman to her fullest potential, and trying to instill life skills and lessons in them that go beyond soccer; things like fighting through injury, how to accept winning and losing, and fighting through the difficult moments life presents on the pitch and in the classroom.

The Chargers (16-4, 6-0,) have several threats, but the main player Roswell has to throttle is Eliza Mariner. Mariner has scored 28 goals during the season. Rhiannon Hill is second on the team with seven. Luli Martinez has scored six goals. Tessa Anderson and Erin Pickett each have five.

In the box, the Chargers will play two goalies; senior Mikaela Montoya and freshman Lorelei Logan. Logan has a team-leading 36 saves on the season.

The Lady Coyotes will count on the one-two scoring punch of Danielle Banda, who has scored a team-high 18 goals for the season, and Kaileigh Holloway with 11, to match points with the Chargers. Roswell will count on senior Maddie Battle to have the game of her career to stop Albuquerque. Battle has 55 saves on the year.

For the second year in a row, the stage is set. Roswell defeated Artesia in a home playoff game to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

“If our girls play like they know how, then they will win,” Ward said. “We lose if we don’t pass and do the little things correct. Our seniors mean a lot to us. They have fought and worked hard for this.”

Roswell (13-8, 5-1) faces Albuquerque Academy at 9:30 a.m. at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex on field 4.

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