Home/News/It was a long time coming, sometimes even in the works, but the wait for a St. Michael’s boy’s state 3A soccer championship arrived with Friday afternoon’s 1-0 shootout over 2nd ranked New Mexico Military Institute at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex
It was a long time coming, sometimes even in the works, but the wait for a St. Michael’s boy’s state 3A soccer championship arrived with Friday afternoon’s 1-0 shootout over 2nd ranked New Mexico Military Institute at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex
By Arnie Leshin
Amazing, that’s what it was. A first, that’s what it was. A roster of determined seniors and underclassmen. An offense that found its way to score mixed in with a defense that turned it up, and a rejuvenated sophomore goalkeeper who could be one of many most valuable players in the lineup.
All this brought the St. Michael’s boy’s soccer program its initial state championship,one that brought a wild celebration after getting past 2nd seeded New Mexico Military Institute, 1-0. in the title match that contained four, yes four overtimes, and concluded with head coach Mike Feldewert’s team wrapping things up with a 4-2 triumph in the shootout.
Yes. the fifth year coach did mention that goalie Daniel Dominguez might have been the team’s state tournament MVP. but then he added that he though everyone was an MVP, that this was a complete team effort, that this team proved what he said, that the Horsemen, talent-wise, was as good as anybody in the state.
The overall record was 13-9-2, but it mattered little. All that mattered was first blanking District 2-3A rival Santa Fe Prep, 2-0, then ousting top-seeded Albuquerque Bosque Charter School, 2-0, then going in front of 4th seeded Monte del Sol, 2-0, after a scoreless first half, and holding off a late run by the Dragons to win 3-2, and then, after disposing of the three district foes, the finale was over a NMMI (pronounced “Nimmy.”) that won 19 of 21 starts that included a pair of ties.
Ed Velie, who coached the Lady Horsemen to four state championships before he resigned, learned on Thursday after the semifinal win over Monte del Sol after getting a call from St. Michael’s Athletic Director Tom Manning, so he decided to drive down to the Bernalillo Soccer Complex for the final.
“Great to see Ed there,” Feldewert said, “I hadn’t seen him in quite some time. He sat on the hill behind our sideline.”
Now for the shootouts after Feldewert told Dominguez to just play the way you’ve been playing. He had told the coach that he was real nervous, but once the penalty kicks began, Dominguez was all business, just as he had been in the four state tournament matches.
And he did, the same as the shooters calmly put 4-of-5 attempts past the NMMI keeper. St. Michael’s went first and sophomore Oliver Rosales, whose three corner kicks brought all three goals versus the Dragons in the semis, and he quickly made it 1-0. NMMI evened it, but Wesley Graham booted the ball into the left corner and it became 2-1. Again, NMMI deadlocked it at 2-2.
But then things changed, went the way of the Horsemen. Senior Aiden French scored to put St. Michael’s up 3-2, and the next NMMI shooter had his kick pounced on by Dominguez. That left it up to leading scorer Esteban Riggales, who had to sit out the previous game after getting a pair of yellow cards against Bosque. Now he strolled to the ball and lined a power shot to the left of the goalie.
Then came a fourth 2019 state tournament celebration, but this one was the biggest, the best, a dream come true in the first time the boys had made the finals since Sandia Prep won four in a row state finals versus St. Michael’s from 2001 to 2004. It was then that Velie said that Mark Miller, the Horsemen head coach, was the best coach who didn’t win state.
Now Velie was right on the scene to see it finally happen, see the boys hoist the championship trophy. It was not as if this team had checked into the state tournament on a roll. Not so, for it lost to Sandia Prep in its last game before state. It had lost 4-3 to Monte del Sol. It had lost 2-1 at Bosque before tying the Bobcats, 3-3, at home. NMMI was the unknown team, but its record was impressive, and it did eliminate Sandia Prep via a shootout.
And St. Michael’s? Amazing.
Feldewert passed around plenty of credits, one that included versatile senior John Morrison, whose father had been head baseball coach at Capital and Santa Fe High, but the youngster. who filled in several times as the goalkeeper, made soccer his favorite, and came up with a tremendous effort on defense after the coach moved him from outside back to center for the second time in the tournament.
“He’s outstanding on defense,” said Feldewert of Morrison. “He’s not a big kid, but he’s smart, and excellent in one-on-one situations. I put him there when they began getting downfield, and he slowed them down.”
Tough to find the word that describes what the St. Michael’s boy’s soccer team has accomplished, the reason being this was more then the program’s first state championship. Unprecedented is a good word because it didn’t figure to be.
Sure, head coach Mike Feldewert’s team had an up-and-down regular season, some quality wins, some dismal losses, which is why the Horsemen wound up at 13-9-2 overall and not the District A-3A probable state champion. They played in a district that included Albuquerque Sandia Prep owning 18 state titles and appearing in 25 finals. Bosque has won state, so has Santa Fe Prep, and now make room for district-member St. Michael’s.