ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The latest MaxPreps boys soccer rankings show some love towards two New Mexican high schools. The rankings consisting of the top 25 high school teams in the country have the Hobbs Eagles at No. 13 and La Cueva cracking the top ten at No. 10.
For the Bears, this ranking comes as a 53-point jump from where they were previously ranked, and that is due to their hot start to the season. La Cueva currently has a 7-0 record and won the APS Metro Championship. Success isn’t new to the program, as the team went on a 14-game win streak to end last year, before a first-round playoff loss. Now, while the national ranking is nice, the Bears don’t want it to distract them from their ultimate goal.
“We just came out hot from the start, and I think we knew it from the beginning that we were going to be good, so it was good to live up to that expectation,” said senior Malcolm Starr.
“I told them everything else will come with it,” head coach Easy Jimenez said. “So, us being nationally ranked is a nice plus, but that’s not our goal. Our goal is still state.”
Not only has La Cueva started the season undefeated, but the Bears have been dominant. The team has outscored opponents 21-2 and a total of 10 players have already found the back of the net for the team.
The Bears changed their system in the offseason to be more defense-focused, and the results speak for themselves. The previous team record of goals conceded in a season is ten, and this year’s squad is on track to allow only 6 during the regular season.
“I’ve never wanted anything else more,” said goalkeeper Mateo Nobrega. “This year, I’ve wanted it a lot more than any of my other years just because it’s my senior year, and I think this year we can really do it.”
“Right now, our defense could be number one probably in the nation,” said Jiminez. “I mean, we’ve only allowed two goals that have been with PKs. So other than that, we haven’t been tested at all.”
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With district play only a few games away, the Bears are ready to contend for the top seed in the state tournament. As of right now, La Cueva isn’t backing down from anyone.
“I don’t really think there is really anyone who competes with us right now,” said Starr. “When that time comes, I think we’ll be ready.”
“We’re capable of beating any one of the top 20 national teams,” Nobrega said. “If we have our full potential, which we haven’t seen yet, we will beat anyone in the state.”