It’s early in the evening and a group of girls are crisscrossing the soccer field at Arroyo del Oso Park in Albuquerque.

The girls are the 13-and-under AYSO United club soccer team. They are working hard on their ball-control skills, running from different points on the field to specific spots, purposefully passing the ball to each other while uttering discernible yelps.

“Yah! Yah!” one girl calls out as she sets up to intercept the ball.

“Yah! Yah! Yah!” another one yells, running to her position near a colored cone on the grass.

The yelping is a communication tactic they use to signal to each other that they’re open.

This week, they are preparing for a milestone—to represent New Mexico at the Far West Regionals tournament—and six of the 16 players on the team hail from the East Mountains.

The six girls who live in the East Mountains are Rylee Casias, Isabella “Izzy” Vigil, Jessa Malizzo, Kiana “Kiki” Weirick, Molly Palfery, and Sienna Montoya. They helped their team accomplish something no other AYSO United team has ever done—they won the New Mexico Open State Cup championship on May 22 at the New Mexico Soccer Complex in Bernalillo. And now they’re going to regionals.

AYSO United is the more competitive club program within the American Youth Soccer Organization, commonly referred to as AYSO. The girls 13U AYSO United is the first AYSO United team in any age group or gender to win the state cup, the team’s head coach, Jake Dopson said.

The team, playing as AYSO United White ’09 in the State Cup tournament—the ‘09 designating the players’ birth year—defeated the Rio Rapids SC ’09 in the championship.

“We made history that day,” said Kiki Weirick, one of the players who lives in the East Mountains.

“We’re the first that has ever won,” added Jessa Malizzo, who lives in Sandia Park.

AYSO United White ’09 competed against three other teams during the State Cup tournament in a round-robin format that started on May 14. The top two teams advanced to the championship game on May 22, and AYSO United came out on top.

“It was a game against a team that we were very familiar with, and it was a high-stakes game,” Dopson said.

After battling through the first and second halves against Rio Rapids, the score was knotted at 0-0 at the end of regulation, sending the contest into overtime. Then, after two scoreless OT periods, the game went to a penalty-kick shootout.

“We made all four [penalty kicks],” Dopson said. “Their third kicker missed, and their fourth kicker missed. Once their fourth kicker missed, mathematically, it was over.”

“It was very nerve-wracking,” said Izzy Vigil, who lives in Sandia Park.

“It was really nerve-wracking but also really exciting because, like, it came down to the wire, it was so close,” Malizzo said.

“I was like screaming, but I think our parents were more excited than we were, to be honest,” said Rylee Casias who lives in Tijeras. “Then we all ran to each other and hugged and we all dog-piled on each other.”

Most of the girls started playing several years ago at what Dopson said is the core level—the recreational level of AYSO, playing at community centers and parks with volunteer coaches.

Now, with their inaugural State Cup championship crown, the team advances to the 2022 U.S. Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships, June 20-26 in Boise Idaho.