Brackets are due out today

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Soccer: LA boys, girls both expect a top-four spot

By Mike Cote

Both Los Alamos Hilltopper soccer teams appear to be in line for a top-four seeding for this year’s Class 4A playoffs.
The field for the postseason for all three soccer classifications in the state are due out today. The New Mexico Activities Association announced the brackets will be released at approximately 3 p.m.
Los Alamos boys and girls, two of the most successful programs in state history, are among the top-ranked teams in 4A and have been throughout much of 2012. In the final rankings, released last week, Los Alamos’ girls were No. 2 overall and Los Alamos’ boys were No. 3.
The Hilltopper girls were ranked No. 1 in Class 4A much of the year, but were leapfrogged by Albuquerque Academy in the final regular season poll. State polls are conducted by MaxPreps.com.
“I don’t know how that works,” Hilltopper girls coach Jiri Kubicek said. “But they’re going to do what they want, anyway. I’m not going to worry about it. If you want to win at state, you’ve got to beat everybody.”
Academy, which was won four consecutive state titles, and Los Alamos are longstanding rivals and have met in three of the previous four championship games. Los Alamos, Academy and St. Pius X, which won four straight titles between 2004-2007, have comprised three of the final four teams in 4A every year since 2000.
Among potential interlopers this year are Aztec (16-2), which has put together one of the strongest seasons in program history and next-door neighbor Kirtland Central (14-5). Miyamura (13-6) was the fourth final four team in 2011.
While Los Alamos girls’ felt they were in position to claim a No. 1 spot heading into the final days of the regular season, which officially concluded Saturday around the state, Kubicek said he wasn’t planning on losing any sleep over today’s announcement.
“I have no control. I’ll send them my two cents and we’ll see how that goes,” he said.
On the boys side, Los Alamos had a strong finish to its regular season, winning five of its last six contests, the biggest win coming in its final game of 2012, topping Capital 2-1 to reclaim the District 2-4A championship it had lost to the Jaguars in 2011.
That win may have paved the way for the Hilltoppers (13-7) to claim a top-four seed and a first round bye. However, Los Alamos head coach Evan Gartz said that first round bye is a very mixed blessing.
“I think not playing in that first round is a disadvantage,” he said. “With it, you end up going two weeks without a game.”
Such will be the case for the Hilltoppers, who would also not play until Nov. 8, a 16-day layoff.
However, the Hilltoppers, who won the state title in 2010, were seeded No. 9 and had to go on the road to Piedra Vista in the first round last year. They lost that contest in overtime.
Farmington won the 2011 state championship. In 2012, Los Alamos and Farmington have had two tough battles, one at Sullivan Field and the other during the Albuquerque Academy Invitational.
The teams split those contests with both games being decided by one goal.
Chaparral (16-2) was No. 1 in the final MaxPreps rankings. While it has had a noteworthy season, it also played the softest schedule of any of the teams that can make a legitimate claim to the top playoff seed.
Academy, which was Gartz’s preseason 4A favorite, finished No. 2 in the final rankings.