LAHS girls soccer advances to state championship game

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Hilltoppers defeat Aztec 4-1 in semifinals, will face Academy for championship

By Phil Scherer

For the second day in a row, the No. 6 seed Los Alamos High School varsity soccer team pulled off an impressive upset victory at the Class 5A state soccer tournament. This time, the Hilltoppers defeated No. 2 seed Aztec High School 4-1 in the semifinals, sending LAHS to the state championship game.

It was a dominant showing for the Hilltoppers, as the team took control of the semifinal match early, and never let go, leaving little doubt they deserved a chance to earn a state championship.

In the third minute, the Hilltoppers went on top 1-0. Katie Hopkins took a free kick from about 25 yards away after Aztec committed a violation. The goalkeeper Sierra Sanders appeared to save the initial shot, but the officials said that she was standing across the goal line when she made the save, giving the goal to Hopkins.

LAHS extended its lead in the 11th minute, as Vianey Terrazas started the ball back up the field, then passed it to Alissia Haagenstad, who sprinted up the field about 35 yards from the goal. She let a shot go, and watched it sail directly over the head of Sanders and into the back of the net. LAHS led 2-0.

The Hilltoppers dominated possession throughout the first half, as the back line of LAHS kept the ball out of trouble for the most part. Because of the effort of the defense, Hilltopper goalkeeper Ashley Atencio did not have to make any difficult saves in the early going.

Sanders kept Aztec in the game, and was consistently her team’s top player. In the 32nd minute, it appeared that Alyssa Parker was going to extend the Hilltopper lead again. Her high shot appeared destined for the back of the net, but Sanders jumped high into the air and punched it over the top of the net to keep the score 2-0.

The game became highly physical toward the end of the first half, as the officials were forced to start making calls to regain control of the game. Terrazas was issued a yellow card at the end of the half, as she was pushed to the ground, and retaliated by elbowing one of the Aztec players.

The first half ended with LAHS on top 2-0.

Though LAHS continued to be aggressive at the beginning of the second half, Aztec got on the scoreboard in the 49th minute. Atencio made a save on a routine shot, but could not control the rebound. The ball went right to Kaylee Madewell, who rocketed it into the back of the net and made it 2-1 in favor of the Hilltoppers.

The Hilltoppers regained control in the 53rd minute, as Haagenstad made one of the best plays of her season, taking on three Aztec defenders near the goal, and ball-handling around all of them. She took a shot near the goal line and beat Sanders, putting LAHS on top 3-1.

It was Haagenstad’s second goal of the game, and her third of the state tournament.

LAHS maintained control throughout the second half, as Aztec was never able to get its offense moving again after giving up the Hilltoppers third goal.

As the game wound to a close, both Hopkins and Alix Hailey of the Hilltoppers were issued yellow cards, as the physical play of the first half continued throughout the game. A total of five yellow cards were issued in the game, three to LAHs, and two to Aztec.

LAHS scored one more goal in the game’s final minutes, as Anna Rose Matuszak knocked in a rebound right in front of the net in the 77th minute, giving LAHS a 4-1 lead and the win.

With the victory, the Hilltoppers advance to the state championship game, where LAHS will face district rival Albuquerque Academy, the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

Academy advanced to the state championship game with a 3-1 victory over No. 4 seed Farmington High School Friday morning.

The Chargers dominated District 2-5A this season, going 6-0, including two victories over the Hilltoppers. In Albuquerque, Academy defeated LAHS 3-1, and in Los Alamos, the Chargers emerged with a 3-0 win.

The third meeting between the two teams will determine the state champion. The game will be Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex.