Girls soccer: LA routs Capital, winds up as second seed for state

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By Mike Cote

SANTA FE — A very good team like the Los Alamos Hilltoppers playing in arguably the worst district in New Mexico, 2AAAA, doesn’t need much to earn a victory.

It was that way again Saturday night as the Hilltoppers rolled to a 9-0 victory at Jaguar Field in the teams’ girls soccer season finale.

Despite missing six players Saturday, Los Alamos rolled up five goals in the first half and rarely allowed the Jaguars past the midfield stripe throughout the game.

A pair of Hilltoppers picked up hat tricks in Saturday’s contest, while Lindsay Benage had a goal and an assist to give Los Alamos the big victory.

Amelia Weaver scored a pair of goals in the first half of Saturday’s game, while three other Hilltoppers — Emily Funsten, Summer Shelley and Nina Neil — earned goals as well. Weaver picked up a hat trick just six minutes into the second half, bouncing a shot off the left post, across the goal mouth and just inside the right corner.

Weaver just missed another goal about 30 seconds later, with her point-blank sliding shot just getting deflected at the last second.

Neil, for her part, scored two goals in the second half, one in the 68th minute and one just as time expired to earn the hat trick as well. Both of Neil’s goals were assisted by Shannon Blair.

Los Alamos, which clinched the District 2AAAA title a week earlier with its 6-0 victory against Bernalillo, was in little danger against Capital (5-14 overall, 2-5 in 2AAAA), despite largely just trying to finish out the regular season without injury or any other problems.

Saturday’s win wasn’t quite the showing the Hilltoppers (16-3) were hoping for to end the season, however.

“We didn’t do too well (Saturday),” Benage said afterward. “(Friday) we played really well against St. Mike’s. That’s the only good game we’ve had before state. We’re doing good, but we need to practice more.”

Hilltopper head coach Jiri Kubicek said that while his team has proven throughout the course of the season that it’s a serious state title threat this season, he’d feel a little better if his team had scored more often throughout the course of the season.

Kubicek said he would’ve particularly like to have seen better offensive output Friday when it took on St. Michael’s in a nondistrict game. Los Alamos picked up a 2-0 victory in the tune-up game against a solid Class A-AAA team on the road Friday, but had plenty of good scoring chances that it didn’t convert.

Every year since joining Class AAAA, Los Alamos has tried to schedule tough games at the end of its season to make up for what has been lackluster district competition. Its only serious district competitor since joining 2AAAA in 2000 has been St. Pius X, but that program was moved out of the district following the 2005 season and Los Alamos hasn’t been even challenged in one 2AAAA game since that time.

“Our district’s gotten better,” Hilltopper captain Laura Nelson said. “It’s good practice for us. It helps us to practice our skills. We do have to play well in these games.”

Kubicek said he was a little bummed out that his team’s nondistrict game against La Cueva, one of the most celebrated Class 5A teams in the state, was rained out last Tuesday.

“I think we could’ve beaten them,” Kubicek said.

The Hilltoppers felt they’d made a good case this season for a No. 1 seed in the AAAA playoffs, the first round of which will start Friday.

The New Mexico Activities Association didn’t see it that way, however, giving the Hilltoppers the second seed behind Albuquerque Academy (15-4), a team the Hilltoppers beat during the regular season and a team with more losses.

In Friday’s game against St. Michael’s Horsemen, Kelsey Neal — who was one of the Hilltoppers not in attendance Saturday — had a goal and an assist. Weaver had the other Los Alamos goal right at the end of regulation, and Amy Neal picked up an assist.

“We’re playing good ball,” Kubicek said. “We’re moving the ball well…we’re just going to work on some set plays and get ready (for state).”

By virtue of its No. 2 seed, the Hilltoppers will get a bye into the state quarterfinals, which are scheduled for Nov. 5. They will play the winner between No. 7 Taos and No. 10 Silver.