Girls soccer: Toppers score 6 times in 2nd half, roll to win

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By Mike Cote

Any questions as to where the offense might come from for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team certainly weren’t being asked Tuesday.

The offense pretty much came from everywhere.

Los Alamos more than found its groove in the second half of its 2010 season opener Tuesday afternoon at Sullivan Field, scoring six goals out of 10 shots taken at one point, to rout the Belen Eagles 9-0.

Los Alamos had a total of seven different players earn goals in the opener, with Los Alamos scoring six times after the break and three times in a span of just over five minutes.

“I think we just got our heads in the game more,” sophomore forward Laura Wendelberger said of the second half. “We focused on getting done what we needed to get done.”

Following its 2009 season, in which Los Alamos advanced to its second straight Class AAAA title game, it lost several key scorers to graduation, while its biggest returning offensive producer, Amy Neal, is only a sophomore.

But Neal, who had a noteworthy freshman year, particularly the second half, picked right back up where she left off, scoring a pair of goals in the first half, the second coming in the 39th minute, heading in a lofted centering pass from the right side by Madison Ahlers to give the Hilltoppers a 3-0 advantage heading into halftime.

Despite picking up the early edge – Charlotte Hoover’s fifth-minute goal, the first of Los Alamos’ season, put the Hilltoppers in control to stay – the Hilltoppers (1-0) had several near-misses in the first half.

Neal was left all alone in front of the goal mouth in just the second minute of play, but hit a slow roller straight at Belen goalkeeper Justine Stanbaugh.

Goals could be at a premium during the Hilltoppers’ nondistrict season, which as 19th-year head coach Jiri Kubicek said, is a brutal one. Following Thursday’s game against Moriarty, a place where Los Alamos has often struggled and was even upset in 2008, high-quality teams like Farmington, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces are in the team’s very immediate future.

“We had some nice opportunities and made some nice goals,” Kubicek said. “I wish it was a little tougher game, but we’ve got another game with Moriarty. We’ll see how that goes.”

Belen, which had fielded some very good teams in the recent past, was never able to sustain the program’s momentum.

In fact, the Eagles very nearly knocked Los Alamos out of the 2003 state championship tournament which the Hilltoppers would go on to win for their most recent state title.

But the Eagles (0-1) are not without potential, sporting some young talent on both the front and back thirds of the field, particularly a good ball-handling freshman forward Jadyn Casillas.

But the offensive opportunities for the Eagles were few and far between Tuesday. They managed just four shots in the contests, only two of which were on-goal and both of which were stopped relatively easily by Los Alamos goalkeepers Bryce Theesfeld and Amanda Bonn, who combined to pitch the shutout.

Following Neal, whose first goal was assisted by Katie Hemphill, and Hoover, whose first goal was assisted by Lindsay Benage, second half tallies came from Shannon Blair, Wendelberger, Jennifer Paul, Ahlers and Naomi Movshovich. Hoover assisted Blair on her goal, while Elena Atencio, Neal and Wendelberger were all credited with second half assists.

Los Alamos’ passing close to the goal mouth was pretty crisp Tuesday, especially considering the team’s preseason workout time had been limited by weather and other factors, but Wendelberger thought the team still left some potential scores on the table.

“I think we had the right idea,” Wendelberger said. “We need to work on executing it.”