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’Toppers pick up OT win vs. Chargers

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Girls soccer: LA, Academy played three straight times in state title game

By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team bounced back from a disappointing loss in the semifinal round of the Albuquerque Academy Invitational to knock off its arch-rival in the third-place game Saturday.
Los Alamos was topped in the tournament Friday afternoon, 3-1, by eventual champion Las Cruces. Saturday, however, Los Alamos scored late in the first overtime period against the host Academy Chargers to pick up a 2-1 victory.
The Chargers and the Hilltoppers have met three consecutive years in the Class 4A championship game, with the Chargers winning all three games.
“That was great,” Los Alamos head coach Jiri Kubicek said. “We shook off the loss to Las Cruces, we came back and we played our game. We had many good opportunities. It was a good win for us.”
At the 88-minute mark Saturday, Hilltopper Chandler Art booted a shot through a crack in the Charger defense toward the goal. Art’s shot deflected off forward Amy Neal and went through the legs of Academy goalkeeper Victoria Grano for the victory.
Los Alamos (6-1) never trailed in the game, getting on the scoreboard first just eight minutes in with Stephanie Blair’s score off a direct kick from 25 yards out. It was the second score by Blair of the tournament off a direct kick.
Academy would tie the score about 10 minutes later, sneaking a shot in just between the crossbar and Bryce Theesfeld’s outstretched hands.
Theesfeld, who was instrumental in the Hilltoppers’ first round victory over the Cleveland Storm, struggled with high balls against both the Chargers and the Las Cruces Bulldawgs, who scored twice going up high.
Kubicek said Theesfeld just needs to punch those shots over the crossbar instead of trying to grab them — the field was somewhat wet on both days, making fingertip catches that much more difficult.
The Bulldawgs topped the Rio Rancho Rams in the finale of the Academy tournament, one of the toughest tournaments played anywhere in the state.
Los Alamos has a busy schedule this week, which includes dates with La Cueva Tuesday, Rio Rancho Thursday and a rematch with the Chargers Saturday. All those games will be played in Los Alamos.