By Arnie Leshin
Anthony Cassaro was the new guy in town. He had lived in upset New York, in California, in Oregon, and other places nowhere near Santa Fe. Then he found himself in Albuquerque when his girl friend there moved to Santa Fe to assist her mother and Cassaro followed.
A long-time soccer player, coach and supporter, he was coaching the Northern New Mexico youth soccer that practiced at the former racetrack south of Santa Fe.
Then he learned that St. Michael’s was looking for a new girl’s soccer coach. He met with athletic director Tom Manning, turned it down, and soon after changed his mind and met with the team.
With this and a full-time job, he’s been busy but hasn’t missed a game, sometimes by himself when an assistant was a no-show.
Now he’s heading down the stretch. His girls posted a regular-season record of 14-6-1, won their opening round of the 3A state tournament by routing Academy of Technology and The Classics at home and enter the quarterfinals in Bernalillo Wednesday as the 6th seed.
In any other district, the Lady Horsemen would be a higher seed, but 2-3A is so good, it got all four schools into state.
Ahead of them is 5th seed Santa Fe Prep (10-4-1), which defeated them 1-0 and 2-1. Albuquerque Sandia Prep (13-4) is the 3rd seed and also swept St. Michael’s, 2-1 and 1-0 in overtime. The 7th seed is Albuquerque Bosque School (12-5) and it split with Cassaro’s team, winning 4-1 and losing 2-1.
And Bosque is who the Lady Horsemen will see Wednesday at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex. It’s scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. start on field 6. At the same time on field 5, Santa Fe Prep (10-4-1) will meet up with Hatch Valley (17-2-1). The semifinals are Thursday and the finals are Friday.
Hatch is the 2nd seed and Socorro (19-1) the top seed.
“They play good soccer here,” said Cassaro, “and we play in a real tough district, one with balance. I would like to meet up with (Santa Fe) Prep again because our games were so close, but first have to get past a good Bosque team.”
The leading scorer for St. Michael’s is senior Claire Lee with 37 goals, and she’s one of the leaders in 3A. The team has other scorers, but Lee has paved the way since game one, a 1-1 tie at Santa Fe High.