Despite his team’s 4-0 loss to the Eldorado Eagles on Tuesday, Los Lunas boys soccer coach Eliseo Aguirre was not disappointed. In fact, he was pleased with the Tigers’ performance.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” he said after the shutout that dropped the Tigers’ record to 6-3.

In reality, the game was much closer than the score indicated. Eldorado held a slim 1-0 lead until midway through the second half.

The game’s first score came quickly when Eagle junior Garrett Ray netted a goal in just the third minute of play.

But after that, the game was tight. For the next 55 minutes, the Tigers played toe-to-toe with the second-ranked Eagles. Both teams played aggressively, but it wasn’t until Eldorado’s Matt Welk scored on a header off of a throw-in in the 59th minute that Eldorado took control of the game.

“We lost our focus at the end,” said Los Lunas senior Omar Vargas, adding that the Tigers’ “mental breakdowns” during the second half contributed to the loss.

Coach Aguirre had a similar take on the game. He said his players played well until tiring toward the end of the game. He credited Eldorado’s superior conditioning for its dominating performance in the last 10 minutes. “I think we ran out of gas,” he said.

Eldorado’s Pat Dailey scored twice off of Brandon Klein assists in the game’s final minutes to ensure the Eldorado victory. Dailey got one between Tiger goalkeeper Roger Vaughan and the right post in the 75th minute. The game’s final score came a few minutes later when Dailey booted a shot over Vaughan’s head.

Vargas said the Tigers’ problem was that they lost their rhythm. “I think we played their game,” he said, referring to what he calls Eldorado’s “kick ball” style of play. He said the Tigers needed better ball control to win.

Aguirre took the loss in stride. He said it’s important for his team to play strong teams such as Eldorado in order to properly prepare for the district season, which begins Tuesday with a home game against Alamogordo at 4 p.m.

Aguirre said the focus is on getting the Tigers into better physical condition. “The only thing I really feel,” he said, “is we need to get into better shape.” That will mean some running for the boys in the coming weeks, but he emphasized that it was for conditioning and not punishment purposes.

The Tigers entertain Valley at noon on Saturday in their final tune-up before district. Aguirre anticipates the Vikings will provide another challenge. “I expect the same kind of game,” he said.

Lady Tigers — The Los Lunas girls soccer team tallied two wins with a pair of shutouts this week to improve to 5-4. Despite being out-shot, 17-9, the Lady Tigers beat Albuquerque High (1-6) at home on Thursday. Michelle Sumner scored the game’s only goal in the 48th minute on a breakaway.

“We knew, if we could get the goalie isolated a little bit, we could get a goal,” said head coach Pat Powers.

Jamie Lueras made seven saves to earn the shutout. “She had a very nice game — probably the best game I’ve seen her play,” Powers said of her goalkeeper. “It was a good confidence booster for her.”

The Lady Tigers earned another shutout on Tuesday, winning at Rio Grande, 10-0. Lueras and Kori Bell split time in goal for Los Lunas, but neither was called upon to stop a shot.

The game ended by way of “mercy rule” after Leslie Urtiaga scored the Tigers’ 10th goal in the 49th minute of play. In addition to Urtiaga, five other Tiger players contributed goals. Kristin McDevitt and Karly Griffith had three goals apiece, and Klarissa Gallegos, Lisa Muñoz and Michelle Sumner each scored once.

Los Lunas will face second-ranked Cibola on Saturday at the Lovelace Soccer Complex at Santa Ana Pueblo. They open District 3-5A play at home on Tuesday against Alamogordo.

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Jessica Dyer