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Heading into the 2011 season, one of the big questions looming over the Los Alamos Hillltopper girls soccer team was whether it would be able to generate goals consistently.
For the opening week of the season, anyway, that question was answered definitively.
Los Alamos scored a pair of goals early in the first half and tacked on two more in the second half to drop its toughest opponent to date, the Farmington Scorpions, 4-2 Saturday afternoon at Dara Jones Field in White Rock.
The Hilltoppers finished the week a perfect 3-0 and put 22 balls into the onion bag against three Class 4A teams.
“I think we’re gelling a lot,” said Los Alamos forward Naomi Movshovich, who finished with a first half goal along with an assist on the clinching goal of the game. “There are a lot of give-and-gos. That has a lot to do with the talent of our players. If you know how to pass, you’ve got a good team.”
Amy Neal, who has been hot as a pistol during the early part of the season, had a goal in each half, including a 61st minute goal to put Los Alamos up 3-1. Neal also crushed a 1-on-1 chance in the first half that clanged off the left post, just missing out on her third hat trick of 2011.
But the Scorpions weren’t done at that point, converting a penalty kick about a minute later to cut the Hilltopper advantage down to one.
Los Alamos would save its best combination for last, however.
With time winding down in regulation and Los Alamos still clinging to a 1-goal lead, Movshovich made a run down the center of the field, where she met up with bruising Farmington fullback Michala Hall. Instead of trying to challenge Hall, who had a standout game Saturday, Movshovich pushed a short pass to Elena Atencio going around the right corner.
Atencio banged Movshovich’s pass into the left side of the goal. Farmington goalkeeper Ellae Montoya got a finger on the shot, but it got through to give the Hilltoppers a big, late insurance tally.
“Elena was just in a perfect spot,” Movshovich said. “It was just awesome.”
Earlier this week, Los Alamos topped Belen on the road and Moriarty at home by a combined 18-0, but Saturday’s win over Farmington, which was ranked fifth in last week’s NMSoccer.com poll, was its biggest win to date.
Hilltopper head coach Jiri Kubicek said he could hardly be happier with his team’s effort throughout the preseason and on into last week’s games.
“We know kids can get free (on offense),” Kubicek said. “That’s key. We’re young, but we’ve got a lot of good speed and these kids have heart. That’s a big plus.”
Los Alamos finished with 14 shots against Farmington (0-1). Farmington, which got off to a quick start making some runs straight down the center of the field early, got off six shots in the first half, including its first goal from midfielder Tonee Scheublee in the 33rd minute to halve the Hilltoppers’ edge.
Immediately following Neal’s second goal, Farmington took the kickoff down inside Hilltopper territory. During a scrum near the Hilltopper goal, in which goalkeeper Bryce Theesfeld ended up on the ground, Scheublee was knocked to the ground from behind, resulting in a penalty kick.
Scorpion midfielder Noelle Phillips-Nelson drilled a top-shelf kick right over Theesfeld to put her team within one.
Kubicek said he saw some good effort from his defensive third — sophomore Stephanie Blair had a solid showing Saturday — but there are still some adjustments to be made, some of which he’s hoping to make before Los Alamos faces a stout Class 5A team, Rio Rancho, Thursday.
“We still need to learn to cover each other,” he said. “We’re leaving some runs open and the kids aren’t shifting around to cover that. That’s maturity…but it will come.”