Girls soccer: LA meets Taos in quarterfinals

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By Mike Cote

On paper, it would look like the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team should be feeling OK heading into its quarterfinal round game Thursday.

But Hilltopper head coach Jiri Kubicek, a veteran of postseason play, knows better than to count any chickens at this point.

Los Alamos, the second-seed in the Class AAAA state girls soccer tournament, will take on the seventh-seeded Taos Tigers in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. That game is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Albuquerque Public Schools Soccer Complex.

The Hilltoppers and the Tigers have played in District 2AAAA together since 2000 and were in District 2AAA for almost a decade before that, so there’s not going to be a lot of guesswork when it comes to knowing what the other brings to the table.

In 2009, the Hilltoppers won the district championship, their fourth in a row, while the Tigers finished in second place in district for the fourth year in a row.

However, it has been a rare game in the last 18 years that Taos has posed much of a threat to Los Alamos and in 2009 it wasn’t much different. Los Alamos topped Taos in the teams’ two season meetings, both by counts of 8-0.

While Kubicek, who is in his 18th season guiding the Hilltopper program, said his team is feeling confident heading into the playoffs, he also knows the state tournament is a bad time of the season to take anything for granted.

“It’s a totally different atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a different way to play soccer. You have to take care of business.”

Thursday’s game will be Los Alamos’ first game since Oct. 24 when it routed Capital 9-0 to end its regular season. While it was a well-deserved rest for Los Alamos, which played four games in eight days prior to this time off, it didn’t do a whole lot of resting during its layover.

Los Alamos (16-3) held some relatively intense late-night practices at Sullivan Field and even scrimmaged the Hilltopper junior varsity boys team during its break to stay sharp.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (15-5) hosted a first round game Saturday. In that game, the Tigers scored a convincing 4-1 win over 10th-seeded Silver to advance to the quarterfinals.

In the first meeting between Los Alamos and Taos this season Sept. 22, Amy Neal had a hat trick and Shaina Riciputi and Saya Shimada both posted 2-goal games for the Hilltoppers. In their Oct. 10 meeting, Riciputi and Kelsey Neal both scored two goals apiece and Shannon Blair had three assists.

Kubicek said Kelsey Neal is feeling the effects of a seasonal illness, while Summer Shelley has been trying to work through some knee problem. Beyond that, he said, Los Alamos should be ready to go.

The Hilltoppers may be going into state with chips on their shoulders, as they felt they deserved a No. 1 seed instead of a No. 2 seed in the AAAA tournament. Albuquerque Academy’s Chargers, who knocked the Hilltoppers off 1-0 in the 2008 state title game, was awarded the No. 1 seed in 2009 despite the Hilltoppers beating them during the regular season.

The Hilltoppers and the Chargers wouldn’t meet until the final of this year’s tournament.

The winner of Thursday’s Los Alamos-Taos game will meet the winner between third-seeded St. Pius X and 11th-seeded Moriarty.

Los Alamos beat both St. Pius and Moriarty during the regular season.

This season, Los Alamos lost to just one Class AAAA team, Volcano Vista, which is the fourth seed.

State Tournament Schedule


(1) Albuquerque Academy vs. (8) Aztec, 9 a.m.

(4) Volcano Vista vs. (5) Del Norte, 9 a.m.

(3) St. Pius X vs. (11) Moriarty, 9:30 a.m.

(2) Los Alamos vs. (7) Taos, 9:30 a.m.


Academy-Aztec winner vs. Volcano Vista-Del Norte winner, 6 p.m.

St. Pius-Moriarty winner vs. Los Alamos-Taos winner, 6 p.m.


State championship game, 6 p.m.