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The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team thought it had made a strong case for a No. 1 seed, but didn’t know if the state seeding committee would see it that way.
The Hilltopper boys soccer team suspected if it beat Capital decisively Saturday night it could crack the top four in the state tournament seeding, but might still finish as a five-seed.
The more pessimistic view turned out to be the right one on both counts.
The Hilltopper girls ended up as the second seed for the 2009 state Class AAAA tournament, the first round of which gets underway this weekend. The state soccer championship tournament brackets were released late Saturday night.
The Hilltopper boys, meanwhile, were named as a fifth-seed in the boys soccer draw, and as a consequence of not making the top four, will have to play an opening round game at Sullivan Field against the 12th-seeded Goddard Rockets.
Los Alamos will host Goddard in the first round of the boys soccer playoffs Friday. That game is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Hilltopper girls, meanwhile, won’t play until Nov. 5, when it hosts the winner of the first-round match-up between 10th-seeded Silver and 7th-seeded Taos, which finished second behind the Hilltoppers in the District 2AAAA regular season standings.
While the difference between a 1 and a 2 seed might not seem that dramatic, what’s sticking in Los Alamos’ craw this week are the facts that it beat the top-seeded Albuquerque Academy Chargers during the regular season and that Los Alamos posted a better regular season record.
In the teams’ meeting Sept. 15, Los Alamos came back from a two-goal deficit at halftime to win 3-2 in overtime. Shaina Riciputi, who was not only named as an All-District 2AAAA fullback Monday but also finished as the team’s leading scorers, earned a pair of goals, including the game-winning tally off a near-miss by teammate Lindsay Benage.
“I don’t know how they make those decisions,” Hilltopper head coach Jiri Kubicek said of the seeding committee members. “My only concern is the girls. They were sure they were going to be No. 1. I don’t know how to explain to them why they’re not.”
Also, because of their No. 2 seed, the Hilltopper girls (16-3) will have a potential contest against the third-seeded St. Pius X Sartans in the semifinals. That, however, might end up working in the Hilltoppers’ favor.
Los Alamos also topped St. Pius (14-5) during the regular season, a 1-0 victory in Albuquerque. Less than a week later, however, Los Alamos was thoroughly dominated by Volcano Vista, losing 2-0.
Volcano Vista (14-4-1) is the No. 4 seed in the tournament and could end up playing Academy (15-4) in the semifinals. Volcano Vista finished second in District 6AAAA to St. Pius (14-5), losing twice to St. Pius in two district meetings.
Kubicek’s only theory why his team wasn’t No. 1 for the playoffs was because Academy had a strength-of-schedule advantage, although head-to-head results are supposed to be of top concern.
Should the bracket play out according to the seeding, Los Alamos and Academy would meet in the girls state championship game. That would be a rematch from the 2008 finale, in which Academy scored the lone goal of the contest midway through the second half.
Due to a contract dispute, the NMAA will host the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds of the state playoffs in all classifications at the Albuquerque Public Schools Soccer Complex, located near Volcano Vista High School, instead of the facility at Santa Ana Pueblo, where it had been held since 2004.
On the boys side, Los Alamos (14-6) and Goddard (11-9) faced off at this year’s Louie Cernicek Invitational, with Los Alamos posting a solid 3-0 win.
That game, played in late August, was just the second game of the season for the Hilltoppers and the third of the season for the Rockets. In that meeting, Andy Thoma, Paul Hemez and Christian Hjelvik all scored for the Hilltoppers, while the Rockets managed just seven shots in the contest.
Los Alamos’ boys capped their regular season with a big victory over the Capital Jaguars in what was effectively a District 2AAAA title contest Saturday. Although Los Alamos in effect needed just not to lose by two goals or more, Los Alamos scored three times in the first half and held Capital to just three shots in the second half, one of which was a penalty kick that resulted in the lone score Los Alamos allowed during the district season.
Davis Anson, the team’s leading scorer and a first-team All-District selection, scored twice for Los Alamos against Capital, with Thoma scoring the other goal and assisting Anson on his first score.
The Jaguars, because of their noteworthy 15-3 regular season record — two of their three losses were to the Hilltoppers — picked up an at-large berth for the AAAA playoffs. The Jaguars will play at Piedra Vista in Friday’s first round.
St. Pius (16-4), not surprisingly, is the No. 1 seed on the boys side. The Sartans have won seven straight Class AAAA titles, the past two coming under current head coach Mike Strati.
Also in the top four and getting a first-round bye are second-seeded Academy (14-6), third-seeded Farmington (16-3) and fourth-seeded Roswell (17-3). Should Los Alamos win Friday, it would face Roswell in the quarterfinals Nov. 5.
NOTE: Tickets for Friday’s Los Alamos-Goddard boys soccer game are $5 for adults, $3 for students. No athletic passes or school IDs will be accepted at the gate.
Here is the bracket for the Class AAAA girls soccer state tournament. All first-round games will be played at home sites. All other games will be played at the Albuquerque Public Schools Soccer Complex.
(5) Del Norte at (12) Goddard, 5 p.m.
(8) Aztec at (9) Deming, noon.
(11) Moriarty at (6) Farmington, 1 p.m.
(10) Silver at (7) Taos, 1 p.m.
Game 1: Aztec-Deming winner vs. (1) Albuquerque Academy, 9 a.m.
Game 2: Del Norte-Goddard winner vs. (4) Volcano Vista, 9 a.m.
Game 3: Moriarty-Farmington winner vs. (3) St. Pius X, 9:30 a.m.
Game 4: Silver-Taos winner vs. (2) Los Alamos, 9:30 a.m.
Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.
(9) Capital at (8) Piedra Vista, 3 p.m.
(12) Goddard at (5) Los Alamos, 4 p.m.
(11) Artesia at (6) Belen, 11 a.m.
(10) Valencia at (7) Santa Teresa, 1 p.m.
Game 1: Capital-Piedra Vista winner vs. (1) St. Pius X, 11:30 a.m.
Game 2: Goddard-Los Alamos winner vs. (4) Roswell, 11:30 a.m.
Game 3: Artesia-Belen winner vs. (3) Farmington, noon.
Game 4: Valencia-Santa Teresa winner vs. (2) Albuquerque Academy, noon.
Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 11 a.m.
Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 11 a.m.
Semifinal winners, 11 a.m.