Boy’s soccer wins district finale

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By Phil Scherer

The Los Alamos High School varsity boy’s soccer team is heading into the state tournament with momentum, as it defeated district rival Capital High School 2-1 at home Thursday to finish the regular season.
It was an important game for the Hilltoppers, currently ranked fourth in Class 5A, as it solidifies the team’s chances of earning a top-four seed in the state tournament. In the tournament, the top four seeds receive a bye directly to the quarterfinals, leaving them three games from a potential championship.
The bracket for the state tournament will be revealed this weekend.
While head coach Ron Blue does not yet know where his team will end up in the tournament, he said he is proud of the way his players have performed this season to be in consideration for a top seed.
“It shows that we really do have talent in this group, and the depth is pretty impressive,” Blue said. “We have had a ton of guys step up big this year, and it shows what kind of character we have.”
From the opening whistle, it seemed the Hilltoppers understood the importance of Thursday’s matchup. The team kept good possession in the early going, and was able to get good runs toward goal, as Capital had a difficult time stopping the duo of Tristan Semelsberger and Arthur Steinkamp.
Steinkmap had the first great scoring chance of the match in the 15th minute, as he received a pass on the left side of the field near the goal. He dribbled up to the goal line and tried to chip it into the right corner of the net, but it went just inches wide.
Both Steinkamp and Semelsberger nearly converted in the 19th minute, as Semelsberger took a shot from 20 yards away that hit the goalkeeper in the arms and bounced right to Steinkamp, who took a point blank shot that again went right to the keeper.
Though LAHS dominated the chances in the first half, the game was scoreless into the intermission.
Capital took the lead right after the second half began, as Samuel Garcia took a free kick that hit the bottom of the cross bar and bounced into the back of the net. LAHS freshman goalkeeper Jaxson Martines never had a chance to make the save.
The Hilltoppers answered back in the 49th minute on a free kick of their own, as Semelsberger fired his shot into the left corner of the net before the goalkeeper even reacted. The score was tied 1-1.
“What a beautiful finish by Tristan,” Blue said.
Just five minutes later, Steinkamp put the Hilltoppers on top for good, as he received a pass from defenseman Adam Listwan deep downfield. Dribbled the ball toward the goal with a pair of defenders draped onto him, and chipped it past the goalkeeper for a 2-1 lead.
“That was so clinical,” Blue said. “And it showed great composure for him to be able to slot it past the keeper under that much pressure.”
Though Capital put together a few scoring opportunities as the clock wound down, the Hilltoppers were able to hold onto the lead and walk away with a 2-1 win.
LAHS finishes the regular season with a record of 14-6, and 4-2 in district play.
The Hilltoppers’ only two district losses came against Albuquerque Adamy, currently the top team in Class 5A. The Hilltoppers played the Chargers close, especially in the most recent matchup, a 1-0 Academy victory.
The team will now look forward to the state tournament, in which Blue believes his team will be tough to beat.
“I think we are a team that can beat anyone in the state,” Blue said. “I like to think that we have a number of seniors, and a number of veterans that really know what they are doing. I wouldn’t want to face us.”