LAHS earns fourth place at Cernicek tourney

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By Phil Scherer

For the first time in four years, the first place trophy for the Louie Cernicek Memorial Tournament does not belong to the Los Alamos High School boys’ soccer team. 

After winning its opening match Friday morning 5-1 over Los Lunas, the team could not keep the momentum rolling into Saturday. LAHS played the first match of the day Saturday morning against Clovis, falling 2-0. Then, in the third place match, the Hilltoppers fell again, this time 3-2 against Roswell to earn fourth place at the tournament. 

It was clear early in the game against Clovis that offensive opportunities would be hard to come by. The forward combination of Arthur Steinkamp and Aiden Semelsberger had a difficult time getting through the defense of Clovis, and every attempted pass over the top of the defense was quickly cleared away. 

Things became even more difficult seven minutes into the game, as Clovis’ Elias Ortega found the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead. 

This allowed Clovis to become even stronger defensively, as they dropped more people to their end of the field to prevent LAHS from setting anything up. The few shots that the Hilltoppers took were from far away from goal, and landed off target. 

Though it appeared the Hilltoppers got stronger in the second half, Clovis put the game out of reach with under 15 minutes remaining, as Ortega broke through the LAHS defense again and scored his second goal of the game, putting Clovis up 2-0, which was the final. 

The win sent Clovis to the championship match, which it won later in the day 3-1 against Alamogordo. The loss sent LAHS to the third-place match against Roswell. 

Early on, it appeared that the Hilltoppers would dominate the match against Roswell, as LAHS held all of the possession and played the first half almost entirely in the offensive half of the field. 

Eleven minutes in, Steinkamp got the Hilltoppers on the board. He sprinted down the middle of the field and lofted the ball high over the goalkeeper’s head and watched it settle in the back of the net, putting LAHS up 1-0. 

Jared Carnes made the score 2-0 20 minutes later, as he made a beautiful run all the way down the right side of the field, sneaking the ball past the goalkeeper into the far corner. 

Things fell apart for the Hilltoppers after that, however. Just two minutes after Carnes’ goal, Roswell responded with a goal of their own with a high shot that just got over the head of goalkeeper Jaxson Martines, making the score 2-1 heading into halftime. 

Less than three minutes after halftime, the score was tied, as LAHS’ defense fell apart and allowed Roswell easy access down the field, which they took full advantage of with a great shot into the corner of the net. 

Three minutes after that, Roswell took the lead for good on a similar play with defenders unable to chase down Roswell forwards. The perfect shot made the score 3-2 and seemed to deflate the Hilltoppers even further. 

Despite having numerous opportunities in the final minutes to level the score, every shot missed its mark, as LAHS fell 3-2 and took fourth place at its home tournament. 

The Hilltoppers have an opportunity to bounce back this week, with a pair of home games, starting with a matchup against Piedra Vista at 5 p.m. Friday. The second game will be 1 p.m. Saturday against Farmington. Both games will be played at Sullivan Field.