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LAHS boy’s soccer loses to Chargers for second time

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By Phil Scherer

The Los Alamos High School varsity boy’s soccer team walked onto Sullivan Field Friday evening hoping to get revenge against Albuquerque Academy from a 3-1 loss two weeks ago in Albuquerque.

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Though LAHS played better in Friday’s rematch, the scoreboard read 1-0 in favor of Albuquerque Academy as the final whistle blew. The game clinched the district title for Academy and put the pressure on the Hilltoppers as they try to lock up a top-four seed in the upcoming state tournament.

As the game began, it appeared the Hilltoppers had learned some valuable lessons from the first matchup against Academy, controlling much of the early action.

Arthur Steinkamp, the Hilltoppers’ leading scorer, nearly put his team on top just two minutes into the game, as Jesse Prime made a pass to him in the middle of the field that gave him a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper.

Steinkamp got a good shot off, but it sailed high over the goalkeeper and the net.

He nearly scored again 10 minutes later, as the Hilltoppers were given a free kick from 35 yards away. He measured the shot and had plenty of power, but it sailed just wide.

LAHS head coach Ron Blue said he has been impressed with the way Steinkamp has played this year, especially since the start of district play.

“Arthur has been outstanding,” Blue said. “He’s scored some amazing goals against Capital. He scored against Roswell this year. He scored against Del Norte several times. He scored our goal against Academy when we played them the first time. Arthur has been a first-team all-district caliber player.”

Following the Hilltoppers’ initial surge, Academy began to gain its footing and play the style that has earned it recognition as the top team in Class 5A.

Within a seven-minute stretch, Academy hit the goal post twice on shots that cleanly beat freshman goalkeeper Jaxson Martines. The Chargers finally broke through in the 32nd minute, as striker Mateo Centenera took a shot from 15 yards away that went straight into the top left corner of the net, giving Academy a 1-0 lead.

The game became quite physical in the second half, as the officials were forced to issue three yellow cards. Two went to Academy for repeated rough play, particularly for continuing to push LAHS’ Jesse Prime to the ground every time the ball came near him.

LAHS was unable to get much going offensively for much of the second half, as Academy was able to clear away most of the Hilltoppers’ chances.

Martines made the save of the game in the 69th minute. Academy took a point blank shot that bounced right off

Martines, and a pair of LAHS defenders cleared the ball away.

Blue was glad to see Martines make such a difficult save, and said he felt like Martines has improved greatly since joining the varsity team.

“He is growing up and maturing,” Blue said. “The kid is a true gamer. He just competes. He competes at practice every day. To me, that’s what a true, top-level athlete does. They don’t coast in practice. They just bring it.”

LAHS made a pair of pushes on the offensive end late, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

LAHS is now 13-6 this season, and 3-2 in district play. The team will conclude district play Thursday at home against Capital at 4 p.m.

Currently, the Hilltoppers are ranked fourth in Class 5A, while Capital is ranked seventh.

LAHS won the first matchup between the teams, 3-1.