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NMMI Sports Press
The third time’s the charm for head coach John Barbour and the New Mexico Military Institute soccer team as the Colts downed the Sandia Prep Sundevils, 4-2, in the NMAA Class A-3A State Championship.
The Colts had been to two previous title tilts over the past four seasons, but fell just short of the first-place blue trophy, dropping a heartbreaker in OT penalty kicks to St. Mike’s in 2019, and a 5-2 loss in 2021 to the Sundevils.
As been the case during the entire 2023 post-season playoff campaign, the Colt offense took control of the game early, scoring two goals within the first ten minutes of play.
Senior striker Daniel De Rueda got the first goal for the Institute, less than three minutes from the opening kick, on a corner-kick assist from senior midfielder Fabrizio Cano.
Six minutes later, senior halfback Humberto Valdez dribbled through traffic to put NMMI up 2-0.
Momentum then shifted to Sandia Prep as they increased their offensive efforts to try and close the gap before the end of the half. The Colt backline defenders – who played a spectacular game all night long – managed to hold off a Sundevil score until the nine-minute mark.
But the Colts answered back almost immediately with Valdez – named the game’s MVP – knocking in his second score of the evening on a cross from senior David Portugal.
Up 3-1 at halftime, the Colts increased their lead on another excellent assist from Portugal, this time to junior forward Sawyer Hull, about four minutes into the second period.
Sandia Prep came back with a goal about six minutes later, making it 4-2.
And that’s when the NMMI fullbacks, along with freshman goalkeeper Rodolfo Anaya really went to work. Junior Javier Yepiz and senior Caser Calderon prevented any sort of quality crosses from the wings, and junior Nicholas Barcenas smothered anything that came down the middle, holding the top-ranked Sundevil offense scoreless for the final 30 minutes.
“I’ve been doing this now for 18 years and we’ve been close twice,” said head coach John Barbour about taking home the blue trophy this year. “This one is for all of those teams that got so far and did so well. This is not only a team win, but an NMMI win, for all our cadets.”
“This was just a great team win,” reiterated Barbour. “Sandia managed to prevent Portugal, our top goal scorer, from scoring, but we were able to get other people involved and get goals from other players, such as center backs scoring on corner kicks. Tonight was just an all-round team win.”
NMMI Sports Press
The Colt Football team is headed to the Class 3A state semifinals after a resounding 35-8 road upset of the West Las Vegas Dons on a chilly evening just east of the southern tip of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.
Junior quarterback Cole Seidenberger led the Institute’s option attack almost to perfection as the offense marched down the field time and again, draining the clock and punishing the Dons at the line of scrimmage.
NMMI amassed 339 rushing yards while keeping the ball for more than three-quarters of the contest.
“I’ve got a great O-line, the best in the class,” said a victorious Seidenberger after the game. “Those guys really threw them around up front and it’s really all because of them.”
After the West Las Vegas band played the national anthem as four U.S. military veterans presented the colors at midfield, the Colts received the opening kickoff and began their methodical march, eating up much of the first quarter.
The Colts drove 63 yards to the Don 1-yard line when the cold weather bit junior running back Tegin Maloney, who fumbled trying to punch the ball into the endzone.
But the West Vegas fans weren’t given much time to cheer as the NMMI defense stuffed the Dons’ ball carrier for a loss on the next play, scoring a safety to take a 2-0 lead with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
The Colts and Maloney made up for the goal line gaffe, taking the next possession 50 yards culminating in a 3-yard touchdown rush for the Roswell native, making the score 9-0 a half minute into the second period.
The Colts continued to bully the Dons on both sides of the ball, with the defense pitching a shutout until late in the fourth quarter when NMMI head coach John O’Mera decided to give his backups some valuable playing experience, a strategy he has employed all season rather than ending games early by the mercy rule.
“We played as good a football game as we have all year, offensively, defensively and special teams,” O’Mera said. “Our coaches did an outstanding job preparing the team. We didn’t know how our kids would react to the cold weather, but other than that first fumble, we executed pretty well. If we play like that, we’ll be a tough out for anybody.”
The Colts will either face No. 1 St. Mikes or No. 9 Raton in next week’s semifinal, but the bigger question on NMMI fans’ minds tonight is the status and health of Maloney, who left the game late in the third quarter and didn’t return.
“Tegin has just gotten better and better as the season went on and he’s a real load to try and take down,” O’Mera said. “He really ran great tonight and we hope he’s ok and we’ll find out more about him when we get back home.”
The Colts made plenty of big defensive plays to keep the Dons off the field, like senior lineman Gabe Richardson’s fourth-and-short stop in the second quarter, or senior defensive back Santiago Lordmendez’ midfield interception to halt Vegas’ first drive of the second half.
“Our defense is very well coached,” Seidenberger said. “And we really play as a team. That’s a great thing about living together. We’re a brotherhood.”
“We did good offensively, but that defense was unbelievable tonight,” gushed O’Mera. “Great game plan by our defensive coaches.”
UPDATE: The No. 1 St. Michael’s Horsemen scored 21-unanswered second-half points Saturday to top the No. 9 Raton Tigers 21-14. The No. 5 Colts will travel to Santa Fe to take on the Horsemen at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.
NMMI Sports Press
The New Mexico Military Institute Lady Colt volleyball team pulled off their second straight-set district victory, exorcising any doubts about their playing ability – along with the visiting Dexter Demons.
Last Tuesday the Colts knocked off the state’s fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, also in straight sets, to earn their first ‘W’ in district.
That momentum continued into Thursday’s home match against Dexter, with the Lady Colts winning with lopsided scores: 25-13, 25-13, 25-15.
Freshman outside hitter Kaytlyn Lackey was the hero against the Rattlers on Tuesday, knocking down double-digit kills from the outside for the Colts.
Tonight against the Demons, it was the Brazilian combo of junior Sara Pires on the right side and freshman Vitoria Assis in the middle racking up the kill-count.
NMMI’s backrow play, anchored by seniors libero Ashlynn Irish and Yasmeen Marrufo, was already a solid component of the Lady Colt game plan. But here in the last two matches of the regular season, the Institute’s offense has caught fire. Sophomore Mia Martinez now has multiple threats all along the front row on the set, regardless of the rotation, including senior outside hitter Anastasia Ament and senior middle blocker Paulina Sanchez.
The win improves the Colts’ record to 10-12 on the season and 2-4 in district. And NMMI’s second-year head coach Chantale Riddle hopes that will be enough for her squad to earn a slot in the state playoffs.
“I think we’re at the top of our rollercoaster, which is great place to be at the end of the season. These kids fight super hard and they have so much fun. They care and they want it,” said coach Riddle about the season’s end and a chance to compete at State. “It finally clicked, here at the end of the season and we just hope that we can get that bid to state.”
Coach Riddle also had high praise for her four seniors, playing in their last match at home. “These seniors worked incredibly hard, all season long, giving everything they had. I think they’ve been very appreciative about what NMMI has given them and I absolutely love what they have given us and the program.”
Coach Riddle and her Lady Colt will have to wait until Sunday afternoon and the NMAA’s 2:00 pm video reveal to find out if they’ll make the 12-team state championship pool for Class 3A. If they do, it will be the first time since the program moved from playing as an independent school and into Class 3A’s District 4 during the 2020-21 school year.
Pool play for seeding begins in on Thursday, Nov. 12 at the Rio Rancho Events Center.