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Boys soccer: Toppers fall to Rams in double overtime Thursday

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys soccer team had some chances to win during regulation in the first round of the Albuquerque Academy Invitational Thursday, but couldn’t find the net.

Late in the contest, the Rio Rancho Rams did.

The Rams scored in the second sudden-death overtime period with only about three minutes remaining until a shootout, giving them a 1-0 lead Thursday in Albuquerque.

“It was a great game, I really enjoyed watching it,” Hilltopper head coach Evan Gartz said. “We played well and against the caliber of someone like Rio Rancho, it really showed. We had the momentum in the first half, then it switched and they had the momentum in the second half.”

Thursday’s game was played mostly in the middle of the field, but Los Alamos did manage to manufacture three 1-on-1 opportunities in regulation. Unfortunately, those chances didn’t turn into goals.

Rio Rancho, one of the premier clubs in Class 5A, managed just one shot in the second overtime, which connected.

The Academy Invitational, one of the premier regular season events in New Mexico, continues through Saturday. The Hilltoppers took on the Class 5A Oñate Knights — who fell in overtime to Sandia Prep 3-2 — in this afternoon’s consolation round.

The loss snapped a 3-game win streak for the Hilltoppers (3-2). Both their losses on the young season have come against Class 5A opponents.

Los Alamos finished the game with 8 shots-on-goal to Rio Rancho’s 5. Gartz said the Rams’ defense is among the best in the state and he was glad to see his team get some chances.

“We fixed some things that we saw were happening in the St. Mike’s game that we had to fix,” Gartz said, referring to a 3-0 win Tuesday in which the team had more than its share of sloppy moments. “Those things we improved greatly. We were packing the box (vs. St. Mike’s) and it was every man for himself when we tried to score.”

In other tournament action, the host Academy Chargers topped Hope Christian 4-1 in Thursday’s first round.