LA girls soccer blanks Santa Teresa, advances to semifinals

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By Mike Cote

SANTA ANA PUEBLO — Saturday’s contest couldn’t have worked out much better in Jiri Kubicek’s grand plan.

Kubicek watched  Los Alamos girls soccer team dismantle the Santa Teresa Desert Warriors 5-0, advance to the semifinal round of the state Class AAAA tournament, and got a chance to work in all of his substitutions early and let them play the bulk of the second half.

Saturday’s win, combined with a 1-0 nipping of the Moriarty Pintos Thursday, gives the Hilltoppers the win in the Class AAAA Pool B of the World Cup round.

Los Alamos will play an old nemesis in Thursday’s semifinal, the Albuquerque Academy Chargers, who demolished LosAlamos’ district mate, Taos, Saturday 10-0, to win Pool C.

St. Pius X and Aztec will meet in the other semifinal Thursday.

The Hilltoppers thoroughly dominated Saturday’s contest, outshooting the Desert Warriors 38-0.

Only a solid performance turned in from Warriors’ goalkeeper Aida De La Fuente prevented the score from getting any worse. De La Fuente stopped 12 shots on the contest, four coming in the first eight minutes, to keep her team alive.

“I thought we were going to beat them by a little more, but there was no reason to score,” said Kubicek, Los Alamos’ head coach. “We scored two or three goals, then we brought the people on the bench in to play the game. That’s nice they got a chance to play.”

Los Alamos led just 2-0 at the halftime break, and didn’t crack De La Fuente until the 18th minute after it had already gotten off 13 shots.

Desirae Hull, Los Alamos’ top point-getter on the season despite missing three weeks with an ankle injury, put in the first goal off a corner kick from Maneesha Chitanvis.

Chitanvis, who misfired on her first corner kick in the 10th minute, placed her second try only a three feet of the center of the goal. Hull headed the ball toward the goal, but it was initially swatted away by De La Fuente. Her swat sent the ball right back to Hull’s head, and Hull made good on the second chance.

Hull would score twice more in the second half, off another Chitanvis corner kick in the 52nd minute and on a deflection off Kelsey Neal in the 78th minute.

Despite the hat trick, Hull is still not yet back to her pre-injury form.

“She’s not going to be 100 percent for the semis,” Kubicek said. “But she’s improving every day. It still hurts when she takes shots, but the next four days (off) will be a big improvement.”

Keyla Tumas had an outstanding individual effort on Saturday, and her effort was rewarded in the 25th minute, scoring a goal off a short pass from Hull that set her up not five yards away from the goal. De La Fuente, who had been sucked over to the right side of the goal before Hull’s touch-pass recovered enough to get a hand on Tumas’ shot, but the ball squirted over the end line.

Tumas said she was thrilled to have scored in the state tournament, but she’s got her eyes on the bigger picture.

“We’ve got to have a good, positive attitude,” she said of the upcoming semifinal. “We’ve got to keep playing our game and not worry about the other team. We’ve beat them, it’s been awhile, but we’ll still play well.”

Los Alamos and Academy met earlier this season, with the Hilltoppers taking a decisive 3-0 win Sept. 18 at Sullivan Field, its signature win of the season.

Saya Shimada, who has been red hot the last month of the season, buried a penalty kick from 30 yards out for the other Hilltopper goal. Shimada crushed the kick, which clipped the bottom of the crossbar, but had enough on it to get to the back of the net at the 52-minute mark.

The three goals in the second half were a big lift of the spirits for Los Alamos (18-4), which, despite dominating against Moriarty, scored just one goal in the 15th minute, something the team wasn’t pleased with.

“The first half we didn’t play terrible,” Tumas said. “It made us realize we had to step it up.”

Los Alamos had several close calls in the game as well, including two shots by late-season call-up Heather Walters, who put two good shots on goal in the second half. Walters also had good showings against St. Michael’s in the regular season and Moriarty Thursday.