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Girls soccer: LA tops Oñate, falls to Las Cruces at tourney

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team split its final two games of the Albuquerque Academy Invitational this weekend.
After falling 2-0 to Sue Cleveland to open the Academy tournament Thursday, the Hilltoppers fell in Friday’s second round to Las Cruces 1-0 in two overtime periods. To finish off the three-day tournament, the Hilltoppers bounced back to knock off Oñate 3-0.
Los Alamos, which has spent much of the early part of the season trying to set its offensive third — most of the team’s top goal-scorers graduated after last season — rotated several players in and out of the front line throughout the tournament.
Head coach Jiri Kubicek said it found some success with newcomer Cassidy Reeves at the front during this tournament.
Friday, the Hilltoppers had some breakaway chances against Las Cruces, particularly during regulation, but couldn’t convert.
With just two minutes remaining in the second overtime period, the Hilltopper defense had its one and only breakdown of the contest and allowed a sudden-death tally by the Bulldawgs.
The Bulldawgs, a respected Class 5A franchise, scored three goals against another solid 5A squad, Rio Rancho, a day earlier.
Kubicek said he wasn’t that thrilled that his team didn’t score any more goals than it allowed during the tournament.
Against Oñate, another 5A school, Reeves connected early in the 47th minute, running down a through-ball from Shannon Blair to give the Hilltoppers a 2-0 cushion. Keanna Cohen scored just five minutes in with Amy Neal getting credit for the assist.
Kristen Funsten would tack on the third goal in the 55th minute.
The upcoming week could be brutal for the Hilltoppers (3-4), who face two tough Class 5A opponents, La Cueva and Rio Rancho Tuesday and Wednesday. Following those, Los Alamos has a crucial showdown against Academy.
season against the top-ranked Academy Chargers Friday.
Kubicek said that while the upcoming week could be a rough one, the important thing for his team is improvement.
“If you want to get better, that’s the way to go,” he said. “You’re not going to get better playing the weaker teams.”