Article by Jonathan Noah Padilla
Bandit picks for each 2022 NMAA Soccer bracket:
5A Boys – Volcano Vista
The 5A boys bracket has a few teams that are strong championship threats (I’m looking at you Albuquerque High and La Cueva). Sandia at the 9 seed will be tough to deal with. The defending champions, Santa Fe, will have to run a gauntlet if they want to repeat as they are the 6 seed who will have potential matches with #3 La Cueva and #2 Centennial just to make it back to the championship game. This years 1 seed, and my pick to win it all, is the well rounded Hawks of Volcano Vista. They have good ball control, players who can score at any moment, and a strong defense. They will be tough to beat but it is definitely not impossible.
5A Girls – Eldorado
The 5A girls bracket is littered with solid teams throughout the bracket. Cleveland is the 1 seed. The Storm have played well all year long. Can they cap off the season with three more wins to seal the deal? Once again, the 9 seed is dangerous and has the talent to hang with anyone. Don’t be surprised if La Cueva ends up making a run through this bracket. The defending champs, Cibola, are the 5 seed. They are always a threat to win any game they are in. If they want to repeat they will need to go through #12 Hobbs, #4 Volcano Vista, and potentially #1 Cleveland to make it back to the championship. The bottom half of the bracket has a very dangerous 3 seed, the Eldorado Eagles (also my pick to win it all). If that is not enough, the 2 seed is Las Cruces. #11 Organ Mountain will have their hands full with 6 seed Sandia. The semifinal will have a bulldog in it. The question here will be, red or green? Albuquerque High has the talent to shock their way into the semis.
4A Boys – Lovington
The boys 4A bracket looks good. While I have Lovington vs Academy in the championship for the third straight year. They will not have an easy route to get there. Lovington will have to deal with either #4 Goddard or #5 St. Pius if things play out accordingly. If there is any team that I think will cause a disruption it is definitely St. Pius. On the bottom half, Academy has a potential meeting with #3 Los Alamos. 6 seed Hope Christian is no slouch and should not be taken lightly.
4A Girls – Hope Christian
Hope Christian is the best team in New Mexico across all classes and it isn’t even close. The Huskies are the defending champions and they are on route to a repeat. Currently, they are going into the state tournament undefeated at 20-0. I have them finishing the season at 23-0. But look out if they face #2 Academy in the championship. In 2 out of 3 games this season, Academy only lost by one goal to the Huskies. #4 Los Alamos and #3 St. Pius are very solid teams who can potentially play spoiler here.
A-3A Boys – Sandia Prep
Sandia Prep had some big wins over some 5A schools this season. They look quite unstoppable in their class and I am curious to see if anyone can give them a challenge in this bracket.
A-3A Girls – Sandia Prep
Sandia Prep played well all year and they will keep that rolling into the tournament. It will take a herculean effort to bring them down.
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