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´Toppers hold on to top Jaguars 1-0

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Boys soccer: Stroud picks up lone goal of game for LA, defense has big showing

It was a struggle for both teams, to be sure, but the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys soccer team picked up a crucial win Saturday afternoon.
Los Alamos got, and needed, just one score as it took on the Capital Jaguars. David Stroud picked up a goal off an assist from Henry Steinkamp at the 20-minute mark of the first half.
That goal, setup by a nifty dribbling effort by Steinkamp, proved to be the difference in the contest as the Hilltoppers held on for a 1-0 victory at Sullivan Field.
Saturday’s game pitted the No. 5-ranked Hilltoppers against the No. 6-ranked Jaguars, who have put together a stellar nondistrict season.
But the contest was highlighted by some big plays from the Hilltopper defense.
The Hilltopper defensive third had its hands full trying to watch out for some solid performers on the Jaguars’ side, most notably midfielder Hector Oquedo.
But Los Alamos was more than up to the task. Oquedo had a relatively quiet game and Capital, after some close calls during a 20-minute stretch in the first half, didn’t get much going in the second half.
Hilltopper fullback Zeke Zumbro said there was little mystery to what his team was going to have to do Saturday to win.
“Mostly, just try to contain Capital,” Zumbro said. “They have quick little flicks. They know how to play with each other very well. That’s what makes them so tough.”
Capital, which has become a solid team in recent seasons, won 11 of 12 contests on the season, including a decisive 4-0 victory over Bernalillo Tuesday.
Capital controlled the action for much of the first half, using several through balls trying to get things going upfront for Jason Alarcon. Alarcon had two chances to break through to the goal, but Zumbro flicked one ball away from his feet and Los Aamos goalkeeper Lorenzo Venneri covered up the other one a split second before Alarcon chased it down.
Despite Capital’s offensive push, the only goal tallied in the first 40 minutes was by Stroud off an assist from Steinkamp.
At the midpoint of the first half, Steinkamp dribbled through the middle of the Jaguars’ back line, stopped on a dime and sent a short pass to Stroud crashing to the goal.
Stroud slid into the ball and sent it past Kevin Gomez to give the Hilltoppers the edge and, ultimately, the victory.
Los Alamos (6-8 overall, 3-0 in 2-4A), which finished with seven shots on the game, actually had several more chances than that, but on numerous occasions tried to take an extra dribble to set up shots only to have the Jaguar back line knock the ball away.
Capital (11-2, 1-1) had eight shots for the contest.  Venneri finished with four saves, including the big stop to turn Alarcon back in the first half, but needed to stop just one ball in the second half, that coming in the 74th minute.
The win over the Jaguars keeps the Hilltoppers on top of the 2-4A standings.
The Hilltoppers are seeking their fourth consecutive district title.
“We feel good, we’re in the driver’s seat,” Zumbro said. “We control our own destiny.”