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After a tough overtime victory in their first meeting, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys soccer team wanted to erase all doubt as to which was the better team Tuesday against the Santa Fe Demons.
Los Alamos scored a little more than 90 seconds into Tuesday’s game at Sullivan Field and tacked on a second goal with less than 10 minutes expired against Santa Fe in a big District 2-4A contest. Los Alamos would then cruise to victory, picking up a 3-0 win.
The Hilltoppers’ victory Tuesday sets up a final showdown with the Capital Jaguars for the District 2-4A crown. That game, early next week, is a rematch of a 1-0 contest won by the Hilltoppers Oct. 1 at Sullivan Field.
Los Alamos remains on top of 2-4A with the win over Santa Fe, keeping it at a perfect 5-0.
Hilltopper midfielder Henry Steinkamp scored Los Alamos’ first goal of the contest in less than two minutes, while Dallin Parker added a goal in the 10th minute to get things rolling. David Stroud had the assist on the opening goal, while the other assist was credited to Ryan Kniss.
Parker said Los Alamos’ aim was to get the Demons down early and keep them down, something the Hilltoppers failed to do in their first meeting.
“We were kind of sitting on a 1-goal lead,” Parker said of the first meeting between the teams. “We weren’t pressuring hard. We know we’re stronger than the other teams in the district and I think we kind of took that for granted. We got a little complacent.”
Los Alamos was determined not to make that same mistake again Tuesday. Los Alamos dominated the midfield against Santa Fe, which only managed four shots-on-goal in the contest, including a pair of penalty kicks.
To preserve the shutout, Hilltopper goalkeeper Lorenzo Venneri stuffed a penalty kick attempt late in the second half. Venneri was called for coming off the goal line too early, however, and the Demons were given a second chance, but that kick sailed well over the crossbar.
Venneri was credited with his third shutout of the season.
Los Alamos (9-10) won its second straight 2-4A game following a humbling 5-0 loss at St. Pius X Thursday. It downed Bernalillo on the road 4-0 Saturday.
Knowing they may not be able to afford any more losses to Class 4A opponents and still have a shot at making the top eight in the Class 4A playoffs — meaning they’d have to play a road contest in the first round of the state tournament — the Hilltoppers felt it important to keep the heat on the Demons early.
“We were really able to play with intensity,” Steinkamp said. “The tempo wasn’t slow, the passes weren’t slow. We were keeping it on their half.”
The first round of the playoffs starts Oct. 28 at home sites around the state, the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds will start Nov. 3 in Albuquerque.
Santa Fe (7-9 overall, 1-3 in 2-4A), with the two penalty kick chances, actually outshot Los Alamos in the second half, but toward the midpoint of the second half Stroud corralled a loose ball after Dylan Livermore’s crossing pass bounced off a Santa Fe defender and went right to him. Stroud’s goal put the Hilltoppers up by three goals and sent the Demons into panic mode.
Parker said he the team feels confident heading into Capital.
“We keep this up, we’ll keep getting better,” he said. “After Pius, we all have determination.”