The Los Lunas High School boys soccer team isn’t expected to be as good as last year’s 15-3-1 squad. But they got off to a better start.
A year ago, the Tigers opened their season at the Clovis Invitational and came home with a 2-0-1 record. The Tigers returned to Clovis to begin the 2003 season last weekend and earned the tournament title by going a perfect 3-0.
Senior goalkeeper Roger Vaughn recorded back-to-back shutouts on Saturday to help Los Lunas lock up the championship. The Tigers blanked Artesia, 4-0, in the semi-finals that morning and recorded a 2-0 win over Rio Rancho that night.
Los Lunas started slow in the championship game against the Rams but eventually got the job done.
“In the beginning, we weren’t really playing our game too well, and they had the advantage against us,” senior and captain Jeremiah Bustos said. “But, after we scored a goal, we started playing more relaxed, and we started playing better.”
Sophomore Alex Plascencia scored the Tigers first goal near the end of first half. Senior Omar Vargas scored a second-half goal on a penalty kick to close out the scoring.
Vargas, who scored four goals over the two-day tournament, is taking over the critical role of ball distributor at midfield this season, replacing All-Stater Danny Kastelic. Kastelic, striker Nathan Tooker and goalkeeper Ryan McDevitt were lost to graduation, leaving the Tigers with three big boots to fill.
“I think we’re able to fill those spots real well,” Bustos said. “Our goalie, Roger Vaughn, did real well at the tournament. Everybody played real well. We’re looking good so far.”
The Tigers opened the tournament on Friday with a 4-1 win over host Clovis.
Also scoring goals at the tourney were Jose Codero, who had two, Brian Giron and Nathan Cox.
The Tigers began an 11-game win streak at the Clovis Invite a year ago. They’ll be hard pressed to repeat the feat this season as the schedule has been upgraded significantly.
Los Lunas played at perennial state- power Sandia on Tuesday (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time). Next up is a home game against another formidable soccer school, La Cueva, on Thursday.
“I’m happy that we’re finally playing these better teams because it will only make us better when we come to district play,” Bustos said. “It’s going to let us know where we’re at and give us a chance to bond as a team.”
Thursday’s game against La Cueva will be played at the high school soccer fields beginning at 4 p.m.