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Toppers girl's soccer advances to semis after beating Goddard

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By Jose Corral

After opportunities started to go wide and the minutes began to go by, the Los Alamos girl's soccer team finally got the one it needed.

The No. 4 Hilltoppers defeated fifth-seeded Goddard 1-0 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state tournament at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex. Los Alamos will face No. 1 St. Pius in the semifinals on Friday.

"We just kept going and kept attacking," Los Alamos coach Gary Ahlers said. "The girls didn't stop and didn't get down. They were so excited."

The Hilltoppers controlled possession and owned the majority of goal scoring opportunities leading up to the eventual game-winning goal. In the 76th minute, Alissia Haagenstad found some space and put away the goal for Los Alamos, from a Sienna Ahlers pass.

In the first half, the Hilltoppers used their midfield to spread the ball around but didn't garner many threats towards the Rockets goal. But in the second, that possession turned into goal scoring opportunities. Then, it was all about getting past Goddard goalkeeper Averi Mann.  

"We had the majority of possession but we just couldn't get a good shot off," Gary Ahlers said. "Their (Goddard) keeper was phenomenal. We couldn't get a clean run onto the goal."    

Defensively, the Hilltoppers stifled a potent Goddard offense, as Los Alamos goalkeeper Anna Lemke wasn't threatened much throughout the game. The backline for the Hilltoppers parried off any chance that the Rockets had in their attacking third.

"Once they put that ball in the net, it was a totally different story," Gary Ahlers said. "Our defense was phenomenal. Kayla Parker, Sophie Wood and Valeri Li were like the Berlin Wall back there. They were consistent the entire game."

St. Pius struggled in its quarterfinal against district foe No. 8 Los Lunas. It took a penalty shootout for the Sartans to get past the Tigers and set up a rematch from last year's Class 5A state championship game with Los Alamos.

"We can't be intimidated by their (St. Pius) physical play," Gary Ahlers said. "We have to continue to play our game... passing the ball and moving as a team. If we play as individuals out there, it's not going to go far. But if we play as team, we've got a real good shot against them."