Girls soccer: LA posts its 7th 2-4A shutout

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By Mike Cote

About the only question in the second half of Saturday’s Los Alamos-Taos girls soccer game was whether Taos’ Tigers would get a shot off before time expired.

They didn’t. They didn’t even get particularly close to it.

That’s been about par for the course throughout the District 2AAAA girls soccer season, however. Los Alamos topped Taos 6-0 Saturday at Sullivan Field to finish a perfect 7-0 on the district season.

The Hilltoppers (13-4 overall) won’t play a postponed game against Española Valley, which is probably just as well for both squads. The Hilltoppers beat the Sundevils 10-0 in the teams’ first meeting.

Los Alamos scored four times in the first half and twice more in the second half, while Taos only got as close as 25 yards to the Hilltopper goal a handful of times in the contest.

During the district season, Los Alamos outscored its opponents by a whopping 61-0.

“That’s always the goal for us,” said Los Alamos midfielder Kelsey Neal. “We want to win all the games and not be scored on. It’s nice.”

The win was the 31st straight district victory for the Hilltoppers, a streak that extends back to the 2005 season.

While there have been few challenges during that streak, Los Alamos doesn’t seem to mind too much.

“They’re really fun games for us,” Neal said. “They help us with the technical side of things.”

Neal had a goal and assist in the contest, but a second goal, a good-looking header in the 16th minute, was waved off because she was fouled prior to the shot. The whistle, however, wasn’t blown until after her shot was well on the way toward the goal.

Adding insult to injury, Neal’s ensuing penalty kick was off-target.

While the play was frustrating for her, it had no impact on the game’s outcome. It was one of many scoring chances that the Hilltoppers had throughout the game that didn’t end up in the net.

Los Alamos head coach Jiri Kubicek, who usually isn’t too keen on his team not converting scoring chances, wasn’t terribly concerned about the missed shots Saturday.

“We had a lot of chances, but some of our girls were a little worried that they could get hurt,” Kubicek said. “That’s OK. When the score is 5- or 6-0, there’s no reason for anybody to get hurt.”

Kubicek has never made it much of a secret that he doesn’t care for one-sided district games, but Los Alamos got through its 2008 district schedule without serious injury, which is about the best thing he could say of the 2AAAA season.

Maneesha Chitanvis, Class AAAA’s leading scorer, added to her total of 24 goals on the season with two more Saturday. Chitanvis had an assist to go along with the two goals.

Neal assisted Chitanvis with the final goal of the game, that coming in the 71st minute. Neal’s centering pass found a wide-open Chitanvis who simply tapped it into goal from short range.

Throughout the contest, the Hilltoppers had several well-placed centering passes. Three of Los Alamos’ goals were scored on centers and several others resulted in good looks near the Taos goal.

The Hilltoppers passed effectively all day Saturday despite the Tigers (8-10 overall, 3-3 in 2AAAA) constantly keeping eight or nine players inside their penalty box. The Tigers have employed this tactic in every game versus Los Alamos in recent memory and it has yet to pay off.

Asli Unal tallied the first goal of the game in the seventh minute, handling a direct kick from Shaina Riciputi.

Amanda Branch and Charlotte Hoover both earned goals for Los Alamos Saturday, while Saya Shimada earned an assist.

The Hilltoppers will be looking forward to their final two games of the regular season, which includes a road game with La Cueva Tuesday at Farmers Insurance Soccer Complex in Bernalillo, which is also the site of the state tournament, which starts Oct. 30.

La Cueva is currently the second-ranked team in Class AAAAA.

Following that game, Los Alamos finishes out its home schedule against the St. Michael’s Horsemen. A ceremony for the Hilltopper seniors is scheduled for that game.