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It might have been the most complete game the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys soccer team had put together all season.
Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough to pull off a first round upset Saturday.
The Hilltoppers, the No. 10 seed in the Class 4A playoffs, were knocked out by the seventh-seeded Piedra Vista Panthers in the opening round. The Panthers came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to score the equalizer, then earn the victory in penalty kicks.
Piedra Vista’s 2-1 shootout win over Los Alamos advances it into the quarterfinals, where the No. 2-seeded St. Pius X Sartans await. Their game is set for Thursday at the Albuquerque Public Schools Soccer Complex.
For the Hilltoppers, their quest for a repeat Class 4A title ended early.
Los Alamos, which took a 3-0 loss at the hands of Piedra Vista during the 2011 regular season, came out with fire in the belly Saturday.
“We played really well,” Los Alamos head coach Evan Gartz said. “The energy was there. We had a lot of momentum during the game. We actually had a lot more scoring chances than they did. They left it all on the field (Saturday).”
But those chances didn’t materialize into more goals during regulation or the two overtime periods.
Los Alamos took the lead 25 minutes into the contest.
Fullback Zeke Zumbro, who was named as the District 2-4A Defensive Player of the Year last week, sent a free kick toward the center of the Piedra Vista goal.
In a scrum in front of the net, the ball got to the feet of Brady Stokes, who kicked into the goal to give the Hilltoppers the lead.
Los Alamos’ 1-0 advantage held up until midway through the second half, when Piedra Vista found the net on a wild corner kick chance.
Going right into a stiff breeze, the Panther corner kick got hung up in the wind long enough for Piedra Vista’s Shane Woodson to get underneath it and head it into the goal.
The two teams went scoreless for the balance of regulation and overtime, although Gartz said his team had some good pushes throughout to set itself up with chances.
In the shootout, Los Alamos managed just one conversion, while Piedra Vista knocked in three successive chances after goalkeeper Lorenzo Venneri scooped up the first chance.
Los Alamos finishes the 2011 season with a record of 8-12. It was the final career game for 12 Hilltopper seniors.
“It never really gelled the way we wanted it to,” Gartz said, talking about the 2011 season. “It felt like it just never clicked. (Saturday), I felt like we did. I’m not too disappointed. All I wanted us to do was give it our best effort and we really did.”
Wrapping up their Hilltopper careers Saturday were Venneri, Zumbro, Patrick Doyle, Michael Hemphill, Ryan Kniss, Dylan Livermore, Jin Park, McKay Parkinson, Christopher Ryan, Ethan Stam, David Stroud and Phillip Vierra.