Topper girls score twice in 2nd half to top Bobcats

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Soccer: Neal scores twice as LA picks up shutout at home

By Mike Cote

Throughout the course of this 2012 season, it’s likely the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls soccer team is going to have some issues.
But so far, it doesn’t appear that the offense is going to be one of them.
The Hilltoppers pulled away from the Bosque School Bobcats with a pair of goals in the second half to earn a win in their first home game of the season.
Amy Neal earned a pair of goals, including the second goal of the game in the 65th minute which seemed to sap the life out of the scrappy Bobcats’ squad.
Chandler Art drove the final nail in the coffin late in the ballgame as the Hilltoppers picked up a 3-0 win at Sullivan Field.
Just two games into 2012, the Hilltoppers have already scored nine goals, four of them by Neal, the team’s superstar and the reigning Class 4A scoring champ, who has assists on three other goals so far.
It was a solid win for Los Alamos over a tough Class A-3A ballclub from Albuquerque, although the Hilltoppers’ head coach Jiri Kubicek would’ve liked to see more oomph out of his team early on.
“We started off a little sluggish,” Kubicek said. “We couldn’t get our rhythm. We were trying to do individual stuff and that didn’t go so well....With our speed we can win those 1-on-1 chances, but we didn’t take advantage of that a couple of times in the second half.”
Los Alamos nearly put itself in an early hole. About four minutes in on a routine through-ball attempt by Bosque, the ball was headed backward by a Hilltopper defender toward goalkeeper Bryce Theesfeld, but Theesfeld had moved over toward the ball, coming down the right hash mark instead of being in the goal mouth.
The headed ball angled past Theesfeld and missed going into the Hilltoppers’ goal by just inches.
Los Alamos narrowly skated by on that play, however, the defense was up to the task the rest of the way.
Bosque, which struggled against Los Alamos’ midfield, was forced to play through-balls to try to generate some offense, but only got a handful of good runs out of those attempts the rest of the way.
Los Alamos, which was considerably quicker up top, was able to move the ball effectively throughout much of the game against the Bosque defensive third, although it wouldn’t get on the scoreboard until the 29th minute.
Forward Catie McDonald, the lone freshman on the Hilltoppers’ regular roster who earned a hat trick in her first varsity start Saturday against Farmington, drove through the teeth of the Bobcat defense, then sent a short chip to Neal, going around the left side. Neal corralled the pass in stride and sent a shot into the far upper corner of the goal past Bobcat keeper Louisa MacKenzie, who could do nothing but watch.
McDonald just missed making the score 2-0 a little over a minute after Neal’s first goal, sending a shot from 25 yards out off the crossbar.
McDonald and Neal were the two fastest players on the field Tuesday and if they continue on as they’ve started, they will be a formidable duo.
Los Alamos (2-0) will have a shot to pick up its second win over a Class 4A opponent Thursday when it travels to Moriarty.
For the game, the Hilltoppers outshot the Bobcats 12-4 and had a 7-1 shot advantage after halftime.
Bosque’s best scoring chance came early in the second half when Sarah Moulton tracked down a loose ball in Hilltopper territory and took a shot toward the right post, but that shot was scooped up by Theesfeld, the only save she needed to make in the half en route to her second shutout of the season.
Kubicek said he will probably still want to make some adjustments to his starting 11 as the season wears on, particularly in the midfield.
“The defense played well,” he said. “We had a few mistakes but they didn’t have too many shots on the goalkeeper. The center-half is still a problem. We need to work on that. We just need to find our combinations, figure out who’s on and who’s going to play.”