Atomic City Update: LAHS soccer teams off to their best starts this decade

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By Phil Scherer

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the strong starts of the Los Alamos High School soccer teams, which are both off to their strongest starts this decade.


Heading into the season, expectations for both programs were sky-high, as they were both coming off appearances in the semifinal round of the state championship tournaments last year and appearances in the championship games the year before. 


Somehow, both teams have exceeded expectations to this point and appear to be strong state championship contenders.


The girls have been making it look easy in the early going, forcing the mercy rule to be activated in two of their first five games. In New Mexico, that happens when a team is leading by 10 goals in the second half. 


In other words, the girl’s soccer team has not just been beating their opponents. They have dominated them. Their first game against Santa Fe High School ended 10-0 with more than 10 minutes left in the game. Their third game against

Grants High School ended 13-3 with time remaining in the second half. 


In five games this year, they have outscored their opponents 30-9, quickly proving themselves as one of the most potent offenses in the state. 


Junior forward Alix Hailey has been an offensive machine for the team since the whistle blew to start the first game. She has tallied eight goals and five assists and appears to have speed that nobody in the state can match. If she proves she can continue this level of play against tougher competition, she could be heading for the record books. 


The most impressive thing about this team may well be its depth. Already, 11 girls have scored goals for them, with eight of them scoring multiple goals. 


Before the season began, girls head coach Ann Cernicek said that the sign of a good team is that the scoring is equal, and everyone on the field can do a lot of things well. So far, her team is matching that expectation to a tee. 


The boys have been equally impressive in their six games this season, winning five times and outscoring opponents 20-3. The team has been a powerhouse offensively, led by senior Tristan Semelsberger and junior Arthur Steinkamp, who head coach Ron Blue has called “two of the best players in the entire state.”


Semelsberger has scored seven goals so far this season, while Steinkamp has scored six. They have proven to be a tough duo to match up with, and their constant attacks toward the net create a very long day for whoever is guarding the net. 


Though the start has been exceptional for both teams, the road only gets harder from this point forward, as they continue to match up against teams with similar championship aspirations. 


A great test for both teams will come next week in the Albuquerque Academy Tournament, which will be full of teams likely to take part in the state tournament in November. 


That tournament will offer great insight into the real progress of both teams, and will show them what still needs to be worked on this season.


With both teams winning with ease to start the season, everything appears to be going great. But at some point, adversity will present itself for both teams. The way they respond to that adversity will determine how far these teams can progress into the postseason, and whether they can achieve their championship dreams.