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LA boys, girls face Chargers in 4A contests

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Soccer: ’Topper girls have been eliminated by Academy in the playoffs five straight years

By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls soccer teams will have big tests against a major Class 4A rival today.
The Hilltopper teams will take on the Albuquerque Academy Chargers. The boys game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Sullivan Field and the girls game is at 4:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.

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Both Hilltopper teams are going into the contests with something to prove.

Los Alamos’ boys are coming off a 0-2-1 showing at this weekend’s Academy Invitational tournament, losing to Sandia Prep in Thursday’s opening round and falling in overtime in a rematch against Farmington Friday. The Hilltoppers knotted with Cleveland 1-1 in the seventh-place contest Saturday.

Academy’s boys went into the 2012 as one of the favorites in Class 4A, but have looked uneven at the start of this season, going 4-4 in their first eight games including losses to Valley and Albuquerque, two schools that don’t usually feature notable programs.

This season, Academy has uncharacteristically allowed 11 goals.

Still, the Chargers, who finished third at this weekend’s tournament, including a victory in the third-place game over Sandia Prep.

Los Alamos (5-3-1) will have to keep tabs on Academy’s Andrew Stone, the team’s leading scorer. Stone has six goals and 16 total points on the season, while his teammate Chase Snyder has earned four goals so far.

A win by the Hilltoppers today would give them a season sweep over their two main Class 4A rivals this season. They topped St. Pius X 1-0 Sept. 8.

Los Alamos’ girls, meanwhile, are coming off a big victory in the Academy Invitational. Los Alamos (6-1) put together three straight days of high-level soccer, taking down top-ranked Las Cruces in the opening round, demolishing Sandia Prep in the semifinal and earning a decisive 3-1 victory over Hope Christian in the title game.

The Hilltoppers have had success in recent years against the Chargers (6-2) in the regular season, but have been knocked out of the Class 4A playoffs by those same Chargers for each of the past five seasons, including in the semifinal round of the 2011 state tournament.

Academy’s two losses on the season have come against Rio Rancho, a very good Class 5A team, and Hope Christian Thursday.

MacKenzie Miller, who hurt Los Alamos in the 4A semifinal last year, is among the top scorers in the state this year, tallying eight goals and six assists. Natalie DuBoise is also a top-10 scorer in 4A with 18 total points.

Los Alamos, of course, is paced by Amy Neal, who tops all 4A scorers with 34 points and is second in New Mexico in assists (10). Catie McDonald is the second-highest scorer in the state among freshmen with her 21 total points.