East Mountain’s boys soccer team’s season ended last Thursday with a 4-0 loss to the No. 1 Hope Christian Huskies in the second round of the Class 4A state championships at Bernalillo’s soccer complex.
“It was a good effort,” East Mountain head coach Frank Trusiano said. “But when you play a team of that caliber you’ve got to play 80 minutes—one slight mistake, one player out of position, and they’re going to exploit that and score, and that’s what they did.”
Five minutes after the opening whistle the top-seeded Huskies broke through with an early goal and never looked back. “That set the tone right there, they came out hard and fast,” Trusiano said.
Making their first-ever appearance in the state quarterfinals, the No. 9 Timberwolves tried their best to keep the game close and succeeded for the remainder of the first half, holding the Huskies to just the one goal.
East Mountain had a handful of its own chances to score in the first half, but each time the T’Wolves came up empty—either hitting the ball up into the wind, or into the hands of Hope’s goalkeeper, Brandon Bagon, who lives in Sandia Park.
“It was windy, cold, crazy weather—soccer weather I guess,” said East Mountain forward Anthony McKenna.
“It was pretty fun,” Bagon said. “It was an exciting game.” Bagon had seven saves.
The Huskies found additional success in the second half by shooting long balls into the corners and then firing cross passes to the center of the box, where their attackers were one-on-one with East Mountain’s goalkeeper, Parker Randall.
“It was frustrating,” Randall said. “They came down the side, all our defenders went down, and they had a wide-open shot, there wasn’t a lot I could do.” Randall had 14 saves. “He played a heck of a game,” Trusiano said of Randall.
Six minutes into the second half Hope scored its second goal.
East Mountain had a golden opportunity to get on the board in the 54th minute when McKenna chased a through ball into the box, Bagon came out for it but overshot both the ball and McKenna.
That left nothing but wide open space between McKenna and the goal but his shot sailed wide left. “I kind of tried to position my body sideways but I just got too under the ball, but that happens,” McKenna said.
The Huskies added another goal in the 59th minute and their final goal in the 70th. East Mountain took a few more shots, but again, they sailed off frame or were saved by Bagon. “Bagon’s a good keeper, I’ll give him that,” McKenna noted.
Hope’s midfielder Ben Gutierrez, another Sandia Park resident, said he was happy to get the victory. “It means a lot after a first-round bye, I’m glad we put it away and are going to the semis,” Gutierrez said.
After the game Trusiano had nothing but positives to say. “What we’ve done over the last four years has paid off,” Trusiano said. “The future’s bright.”