LAHS boys soccer falls to Academy in state semifinals

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By Phil Scherer

For the second year in a row, the Los Alamos High School varsity boy’s soccer team watched its season slip away in the semifinals of the Class 5A state tournament. Just like last year, the Hilltoppers fell to Albuquerque Academy 4-1 in the semifinals.

LAHS, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, entered the game as the underdogs against Academy, the No. 1 seed.

Though LAHS was able to stay competitive into the second half, the strength and speed of Academy became too much to handle as the game moved along, and the Chargers took control and never let go.

Academy maintained the majority of the possession in the early going, as the Chargers’ strikers kept the back line of the Hilltoppers, as well as freshman goalkeeper Jaxson Martines, busy in the early going.

The LAHS defense was up to the task, however, as Hilltopper defenders Ben Rees and Cid Rice were able to clear the ball out of danger and keep the Chargers off the scoreboard as the Hilltoppers survived the early onslaught of Academy shots.

Hilltopper senior Tristan Semelsberger was given a yellow card in the 17th minute, as he was guilty of tripping an Academy defender. After the call was made, Semelsberger was not pleased and complained to the official, earning the card and forcing him out of the game momentarily.

LAHS took the lead in the 23rd minute, as Arthur Steinkamp took a shot from in front of the goal mouth, and beat Academy goalkeeper Lucas Schlenzig, who watched the ball fly into the back of the net to give the Hilltoppers a 1-0 lead.

That goal gave LAHS its first lead against Academy all year, as Academy completely controlled the first two matchups between the two teams.

Following the goal, Academy put on another big push, attempting to regain control of the contest. Once again, LAHS was able to withstand the attack and maintain the lead, as Martines continued to make difficult saves.

At halftime, LAHS led Academy 1-0.

Academy maintained possession well at the beginning of the second half, and tied the score in the 48th minute, as Mateo Centenera received a pass deep downfield and shot the ball past Martines before he had a chance to react. The game was tied 1-1.

The Hilltoppers had opportunities to tie the score after allowing the game-tying goal, as Miguel Chacon made a great pass to Samuel Cirigliano near the goal. Cirigliano had a wide-open net, but sent the ball just high, keeping the game tied.

Academy took the lead 2-1 in 58th minute, as LAHS allowed the Chargers to take four corner kicks in a row. On the fourth corner kick, Academy converted, as Lucas Jepsen sent the ball past Martines and into the back of the net.

It appeared Academy’s Centenera scored another goal in the 66th minute, but the goal was waved off because of an offside call, keeping the Hilltoppers in the game momentarily.

Just minutes later, however, Academy did score a third goal, as Nick Williams took a free kick from 35 yards away, which was headed into the goal by Jepsen for his second score of the game.

The goal gave Academy a 3-1 lead, and sent the Chargers to the state championship game.

Academy added a final goal in the game’s final minute, giving the Chargers a 4-1 lead, which ended up being the final score.

The loss ended the Hilltoppers’ season, as LAHS lost to Academy in the state tournament for the third year in a row.

It was LAHS’ third loss to Academy this season, as the top-seeded Chargers advance to the state championship game for the fifth year in a row.