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SANTA FE – There is no doubt the Capital Jaguars girls soccer team has improved.
But in what should’ve been a routine District 2-4A game Saturday, Los Alamos let the Jaguars play like a legitimate title threat.
The Jaguars pushed the Hilltoppers to an overtime period before the Hilltoppers finally broke a scoreless deadlock.
With about three minutes remaining in overtime, Los Alamos’ Catie McDonald finally found paydirt, giving the Hilltoppers a tougher-than-expected 1-0 win at Jaguar Field.
This may have been the most unusual game in what has been an unusual season for Los Alamos. More often than not, Los Alamos has been able to close Capital via the 10-goal rule.
But while Capital (7-6) has improved immensely since recent years, Los Alamos (5-10) has been struggling to find comfortable footing all year.
Los Alamos head coach Jiri Kubicek said he suspected going into Saturday’s contest his team might not be taking the Jaguars seriously. After the early part of the game, he was sure of it.
“They were thinking about the dance, or whatever,” Kubicek said, referring to the homecoming soirée Saturday night. “We thought we’d stick to our game and do a better job, but our minds were not in it.”
Los Alamos, which hasn’t lost a district game since 2006, was outplayed by Capital during several stretches of the first half.
The Jaguars didn’t get a shot off in the game, and on only a couple of occasions got close to taking a shot.
However, Los Alamos got off just two shots in the first half, both of which were off target.
Los Alamos thoroughly controlled the game after halftime, firing off as many shots in the first two minutes of the second half as it did in the first half.
For the game, Los Alamos got off 15 shots, including five in the overtime period, all five by McDonald, including the game-winner, a 2-touch attempt from 15 yards out that snuck inside the near post.
Capital didn’t completely hunker down in the penalty box, as it is usually wont to do against the Hilltoppers, but instead tried to maintain a balanced approach with a pair of forwards and two players in the midfield to support an attacking game.
In the front, Beatriz Lazoya attempted to drive on the Hilltopper defense, but was thwarted before making any serious threats against Elena Atencio, Los Alamos’ goalkeeper who was back in action after hurting her ankle two weeks earlier.
Meanwhile, Sabrina Nottke had a solid game in the back third for the Jaguars, who had won five in a row prior to Saturday.
Last week was a rough one for Los Alamos, which was crushed by a pair of 5A teams, Volcano Vista and La Cueva.
Kubicek still believes that if his team can finish off the season strong – the Hilltoppers have five games left – it might still be able to squeeze in to the top half of the Class 4A playoff bracket.
But Los Alamos might not be able to afford any more performances like it had Saturday.
“We were soft,” Kubicek said. “We didn’t put in any effort…We’ll have to go back to basics: turn, pass, run, shoot. At this point, we’ll only be able to improve on the things we do well.”