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It was an inauspicious start to the 2013 season for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team Saturday.
Los Alamos debuted at home against another Class 4A squad, the Farmington Scorpions, but it was the Scorpions that settled into their game before the Hilltoppers.
Farmington forward Hannah Kelley scored at the end of both halves, breaking the scoreless tie in the 37th minute, then putting away a freebee goal late in the game as her team won 2-0 at Sullivan Field.
It was the first game of a tough early season schedule for the Hilltoppers. Hilltopper head coach Jiri Kubicek knew he’d get to see quickly what his team’s deficiencies are and had some notes for his squad after its opener.
“Better communication, better support, better team effort,” said Kubicek. “We didn’t see much of that effort today. You have to be more in control. We just didn’t do that.”
Both teams featured a high percentage of sophomores on their opening day rosters, but the Scorpions were largely sophomores with just a sprinkling of upperclassmen mixed in.
But the Scorpions looked like the more seasoned team.
Their defense slowed down Los Alamos’ main scoring threat, Catie McDonald, who only had a couple of good looks throughout.
Meanwhile, Farmington’s midfield won the battle for 50-50 balls and kept Los Alamos’ defense backpedaling for the bulk of the contest.
Elena Atencio, a senior getting one of her first career starts in goal, made some big stops to keep Los Alamos as close as it was — the score remained 1-0 until a mis-hit ball bounced straight to Kelley all alone about 15 yards from the goal mouth with under two minutes remaining.
The two teams were about even with shots taken — 13-11 in favor of Farmington — but Atencio was credited with six saves, the best of which was a deflection on a point-blank shot from Farmington’s veteran forward Katelynn Flack that Atencio knocked just wide of the right goalpost at the 52nd minute.
But Atencio’s goal play was one of the few bright spots on the day for Los Alamos, which will be trying to settle on a starting lineup for the next few games.
Kubicek said after Saturday’s loss he’s already got an idea of who will get the starting nods when Los Alamos goes against Bosque Tuesday.
Shannon Gill, Farmington’s head coach, likes how her sophomores responded Saturday, but noted many of her young players came up together through the youth soccer program and are familiar with each other’s style of play.
“It was a great start for us,” she said. “To come into Los Alamos is always tough. They handed it to us last year. We wanted to start from the first kickoff and get to that first ball.”