Mustangs’ 19U AA team exuding character, potential in first season
The New Mexico Mustangs’ 19U AA team doesn’t have the best won-loss record, but for a first-year team with an average age of 15, coach-manager Jesus Flores has his team going in a positive direction.
Obviously, the Mustangs have played older, more experienced competition this season, but Flores feels that can only make his girls improve each time out.
“The thing I like most about our team is that they do not give up,” said Flores. “They know we are outaged, outnumbered and outsized, but they have no fear and continue to hustle and play hard no matter what. They have a will to do their best, no matter what the outcome ends up being. When their back is against the wall, they push that much harder. With having such a small bench, fatigue plays a large role in our losses, but like I said, they continue to push to the very end.”
The Mustangs’ core is comprised of “talented players that enjoy the game” said Flores, and those girls keep on “progressing and improving.”
“As always in New Mexico, we do not have a large pool of players to pull from, so most tourneys, we have a bench of 10 skaters,” explained Flores. “We do have a large pool of girls coming up in the next few years, so hopefully these girls will continue to stay and play together. As it is now, when we have gone to tournaments, we are an unknown, but when we leave, we leave with a great deal of respect from players and coaches and parents. Just an awesome feeling for our girls.”
Next season, the Mustangs will be losing two key players in defensive player Olivia Flores (Jesus’ daughter), as the family will be moving to Minnesota, and center Sydney Hancock will be going on a student exchange program to Belgium.
There are a handful of players with the Mustangs that could easily play at the AA or AAA level, but Flores said most cannot pay the fees associated with going to neighboring states. He said Olivia played the 2014-15 season for the Dallas Stars AAA program and fees ended up being about $6000, not including travel for tournaments or even to go to practices in Dallas.
“We were able to get our fees for this season here in New Mexico at about $700, not including travel, but this was more affordable for some families,” said Flores.
Players that have been with the Mustangs’ 19U AA squad since Day 1 include forwards Lauren Askenazy, Katriel Bawden, Tuesday Chavez, Martha Gleason, Hancock, Ally McCaw and Lauren Russell; Flores and Sophie Guthrie on defense; and goalie Amanda Saxton. Flores is joined on the bench by Phil Askenazy and Marco Chavez.
Other players that have suited up for the Mustangs in games or in tournaments are Corey Carnes, Alexis Doutt, Grace Hausenfleck, Victoria Jeffords, Cecelia Knight, Ally Kuehn, Megan Pimental, Olivia Sakadinsky, Hannah Schultz and Callie Wollshlager.
“We have not won any tournaments, but I imagine we are at about 30 percent in terms of wins,” said Flores. “We have been in every game, losing by one or so goals. There was only one game we lost by a huge margin, and that was 6-1 at the beginning of season to the Utah Lady Grizzlies. We then played and lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Washington Wild (at the San Jr. Sharks’ MLK Tournament on Jan. 17, where the Mustangs took third, and the Wild eventually won the event with a 4-2 win over the Lady Grizzlies).
“After everything we have had to endure, overcome and deal with, the competition we have had to face, with the short bench and young girls, all I can say is I am very proud to be part of this. I have enjoyed every minute of this season and am also very, very proud of our girls.”
— Matt Mackinder