IT’S 2-FOR-1 AT SANDIA PREP
When it comes to soccer success this year, Sandia Prep has a two for one approach to the postseason. Two programs from the same school earned the top seed in their bracket. The Sandia Prep girls are number one…and so are the boys.
“It was nice to get the one seed because it says we had a pretty good season,” said Sandia Prep boys soccer coach Tommy Smith. “We finished first in our district and we knew our district might be the toughest district.”
“It’s a testament to the work we’ve done so far,” said girls head coach Matt Westerlund. “It’s motivation for us to prove to everybody in the state that we’re the best team in our classification.”
The girls are going for a three-peat this year.
“Having a three-peat would be incredible,” said senior Alexandria Forrester. “Us being seniors, we started off with a win our sophomore year and we’ve been working hard every single year. I wasn’t able to play last year and this would mean so much to me coming back from an injury (knee).”
“It would be a great way to close out to my soccer career here at Prep,” said senior Lyndsay McDermott. “It would be awesome to have that (3peat), knowing I won the state tournament three times and there would only be one tournament we were in that we didn’t win. It would be really, really awesome.”
This is the first year in charge for head coach Matt Westerlund.
“Coach Westerlund played for me,” explained Smith. “He played for me on two state championship teams that I coached in the early 2000’s.”
“Being a first year head coach and working under Tommy Smith who’s been here for ages, he’s my mentor and I kind of want to follow in his footsteps with my first opportunity as a head coach.”
“I think it’s been great with him (coach Westerlund) interacting with us and the captains,” described Forrester. “He’s put forth a great example for all of us and he’s really helped us this year .”
On the boys side, head coach Tommy Smith is familiar with being near the top. He led the Sundevils to the championship game 15 times.
“You have to have a little bit of luck to win it all,” said Smith. “You have to have the players who are willing to work hard and buy in to what you’re trying to accomplish.”
The Sandia Prep boys program is a 10-time state champ, but they haven’t won it all since 2013.
“We got to the final game last year against Hope and lost in overtime,” said Smith. “With our six seniors they’ve tasted that defeat last year.”
“Every single day I think about that game,” said senior Shamus O’Leary. “Losing in OT was really hard, especially because I saw the other team and their faces and they were so happy. I was thinking, ‘I have to wait another year to have this chance again.’ After this year I’m going to think, ‘Wow, I’m never going to have this chance again. So it’s definitely motivation.”
Both teams admit there is a little healthy rivalry between the two programs. The two recent titles by the girls motivate the boys to get their hands on one too.
“We have the two-time state championship and that’s what they’ve been wanting and we’ve both been pushing each other so hard and I think it’s been really good to have that push on our back and to push them and pushing them to be their best,” said McDermott.
“They’ve had more success than us recently,” said Smith of the girls team. “So we’re kind of envious of that. It motivates us to try and win.”
“We are going in to this with a ‘we want to win’ (attitude) really bad and I think we can do it,” said Forrester.
“It would be nice if we could both be lifting the blue trophy on Nov ember 9th,” said Smith.
By earning the top spot, both programs have a first-round bye and won’t play until the quarterfinals on November seventh.