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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys soccer team appeared to be headed into another overtime game Wednesday against Rio Rancho, but the Rams had other plans.
With only about 30 seconds remaining, the Rams took advantage of the Hilltoppers’ slow rotation to the right flank and connected with the game-winner, grabbing a 2-1 victory at Rio Rancho.
It was a disappointing end for Los Alamos, which had controlled the ball for the lion’s share of the game but only had one goal to show for its efforts.
The loss was the fourth for the Hilltoppers in five games. During this final key stretch of the nondistrict season, the Hilltoppers managed just one tie and took four losses, albeit against high-quality opponents such as Albuquerque Academy, Sandia Prep and the Rams (6-2).
Hilltopper head coach Evan Gartz said his team’s play has him shaking his head right now.
“Our team’s digressing a little bit,” Gartz said. “We’re not making our opportunities in front of the goal. We killed (Rio Rancho) in possession but we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. Rio Rancho’s a good team but we’re a better team. I’m really frustrated right now. We’re a better team than this.”
Despite playing most of the first half on the Rams’ half of the field, the Hilltoppers trailed 1-0 after 25 minutes with the Rams converting on a corner kick.
At the 30-minute mark, Dallin Parker earned a goal on what was actually a mis-hit centering pass that curved into the far post to tie the score.
The score remained tied until the final minute of regulation when the Rams made their late push. It was one of the very few opportunities the Rams had in the second half, but they capitalized while the Hilltoppers were unable to do so despite possessing the ball for the vast majority of the half.
“We’ve got to look at where our breakdowns are happening,” Gartz said. “We’ll see what we can do to strengthen. We’re getting beat too often behind the defense. We need to play more conservatively instead of trying to push everything up.”