Girl’s soccer struggles against top-ranked 5A team

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By Phil Scherer

In one of the most important games of the district season, The Los Alamos High School varsity girl’s soccer team fell to Albuquerque Academy 3-0, the Hilltoppers’ second loss to the Chargers in two weeks.

Though the scoreboard may not show it, LAHS head coach Ann Cernicek felt her team played much better than the first times the two teams met.

“I thought the first half was really good,” Cernicek said. “And we were able to fight until the bitter end. We were able to create opportunities and just couldn’t convert them unfortunately.”

The Hilltoppers came out strong in the first half, as an early shot from Anna Rose Matuszak went just wide of the net.

Her shot came from the high energy of LAHS in the early going, as they understood how important getting off to a good start is against Academy, which has been consistently ranked as the top team in Class 5A.

Though Academy kept most of the possession in the first half, the back line of LAHS, led by Jaci Linn, Vianey Terrazas and Valeri Li, were successful at keeping the ball out of the dangerous areas.

That began to change 15 minutes into the game, as Academy started lofting passes high into the air and over the head of the defense, while the forwards from Academy used their speed to get behind the defense.

That strategy led to the first goal of the game, as the Chargers’ leading scorer Eliza Mariner took a shot from near the goal line that hooked around the post and into the top corner to give Academy a 1-0 lead.

After the opening goal, Academy continued attacking the net at every opportunity, forcing LAHS goalkeeper Ashley Atencio to remain alert until the final whistle.

Just two minutes after the first goal, Academy nearly added a second, as a high shot bounced right off the crossbar, and Atencio was able to save the follow-up attempt.

Despite the onslaught of shots, LAHS went into halftime trailing just 1-0.

As the second half, began, however, Academy’s energy was higher than LAHS’, as the forwards of the Chargers continued to get behind the Hilltopper defense with ease.

Mariner was able to extend Academy’s lead to 2-0 in the 50th minute, all but clinching the game for the Chargers, as they were able to consistently keep the ball away from LAHS throughout the second half.

Academy was able to add another goal with just a minute left in the contest, and won 3-0.

Despite the score, Cernicek saw a lot of positives in the game, mainly that her team was able to keep Mariner in better check for most of the game than they did in the first matchup.

She also felt like her team created better scoring opportunities in this matchup, but was just unable to bury any of them in the back of the net.

“That’s just how soccer goes,” Cernicek said.

LAHS is now 13-5-1 this season, and 3-2 in district play.

The team will conclude the district season Thursday at home against Capital at 6 p.m.

The Hilltoppers won the first matchup against Capital 8-0 on the road.