Moments after the Aztec Lady Tigers knocked Moriarty out of the first round of the Class 4A girls state playoffs, Lady Pintos senior forward Lila Lionbarger walked across the field, taking one last look at the scoreboard.

The look on her face said a thousand words, but the scoreboard said it all.

The visiting ninth-seeded Lady Tigers had tallied a pair of goals. The eighth-seeded Lady Pintos had been held scoreless.

The Oct. 26 matchup was Moriarty’s first state tournament game since 2018 when Lionbarger was a freshman.

This season was also the Lady Pintos’ first winning campaign—and their highest seed to host a playoff game—since 2017.

But with a stiff wind howling all afternoon and a stifling Aztec defense that kept Moriarty at bay, the Lady Tigers won the opening-round match 2-0, ending the Lady Pintos’ season.

“It didn’t happen today,” Lionbarger said after several minutes of tear-filled hugs with her teammates and coach. “It was tough, you know, there weren’t a lot of through balls, there just weren’t a lot of opportunities.”

Lionbarger, who netted 25 goals this year and had numerous breakaway opportunities all season, didn’t get many chances against Aztec. There was always at least one defender covering her, sometimes two or three.

“Opportunities were few and far between,” Lionbarger said.  “I was definitely swamped by every single defender up there.”

Lionbarger got one open look in the 25th minute from the right corner but the wind pushed the ball into the side of the net. Another shot in the second half sailed wide left. Lionbarger’s only true shot on goal was saved by Aztec’s goalkeeper.

Moriarty’s only other shot on goal came in the 30th minute following a throw-in, when freshman Brooklyn Olivas blasted a straight-on shot from about 15 yards out. But Aztec’s goalkeeper made a leaping catch just below the crossbar for the save.

The Lady Tigers scored their first goal in the 23rd minute and their second goal in the 52nd.

“I think they were a little faster than we expected,” Moriarty senior defender Matea Cronin said. “And it was hard to control the ball because of the wind.”

“They fought hard till the very end, and they kept their heads up,” Moriarty head coach Val Luker said. “They played hard, and you know, it was a real privilege and honor for us to be able to be out here today representing Moriarty.”

After the game, Moriarty senior defender Molly Apodaca said, “I spent the last five years on this team, I’ve been playing since eighth grade, and it’s insane to me, like, I can’t believe it’s over, I’m in shock. But it’s been an amazing season, these are my girls.”

Lionbarger, the other senior who’s been on the team since eighth grade, wore No. 22 on her jersey for the first time in her career. She has worn No. 10 for years and said she sported No. 22 in honor of her older brother Luke, a former Pintos soccer player who graduated in 2020 and wore No. 22.

“We got new jerseys yesterday and we never had numbers that went above 18, and 22’s my brother’s number, so I took the liberty and got it and I represented him today which felt good,” Lionbarger said.

She described playing in her first state tournament since her freshman year as “surreal.”

“You know, when I was younger, we made it to state and you look at the seniors and just admire them, and being on the other side of it and leading the freshmen into state, it’s an honor,” Lionbarger said, adding, “It was a fun season, absolutely, it was so fun, it’s just been everything I could’ve asked for and more—it’s been a really good run.”

The Lady Pintos finished with an 8-7-2 overall record, 3-2-1 in District 2-4A.