Efficient Academy keeps rolling
Chargers foil Los Alamos again, and the best may be yet to come
SANTA ANA PUEBLO — Second-seeded Albuquerque Academy claimed its third title in four seasons as the Chargers rolled to a commanding 3-0 victory in the 4A boys state championship game over Los Alamos on Friday at the Soccer Complex.
Academy (18-4-1) dispatched Los Alamos in the 2015 final and then in the semifinals the past two years.
“In the last four years, I’ve lost to one team. I just can’t get past them,” Los Alamos coach Ron Blue said. “They play with such great intensity, it’s tough to replicate that in training. We just couldn’t connect in the attacking end as much as we liked.”
The 2018 title is the eighth all time for Albuquerque Academy. The bad news for No. 5 Los Alamos (16-7-1) and the rest of the division is that even though Academy rosters 10 seniors, some rising talents provided the finishing touches for the Chargers on Friday.
“The group coming up is unbelievable,” Academy coach Laney Kolek said. “Just a special group of guys that came together and peaked at the right moment and ended the season on the highest note ever.”
Academy bossed the game from the opening moments with steady defensive organization while easily playing through the lines to build the attack. Los Alamos never got off the mark amidst the thicket of red jerseys contesting every touch.
Los Alamos senior Arthur Steinkamp and sophomore Aiden Semelsberger had to drop too deep in search of service to pose threatening.
“I don’t think we’re just used to that pressure,” Steinkamp said.
Los Alamos didn’t complete a pass in the Chargers side of the field until the sixth minute and its lone first-half shot on goal came in the 21st. For the game, Academy outshot Los Alamos 14-3 and earned six corner kicks to two for the Hilltoppers.
“That was the whole thing — disruption disruption disruption,” Kolek said. “Keep their flow at a minimum. That was the whole key through the midfield.”
The seemingly inevitable opening goal for the Chargers came in the 18th minute. After the initial header caromed off the post, freshman Neven Zapatka pounced on a blocked shot to bury his chance into the corner.
In the 24th, Academy senior Kenny Levandoski’s square ball off an industrious slicing run wriggled through the penalty area before junior Trevor Dean struck cleanly to make it two.
The Chargers kept pressing and nearly picked a third before halftime after the Hilltoppers were unable to close down the ball to stymie the Academy ambush.
Los Alamos showed second half fight, but Academy quashed any thoughts of a turnaround in the 65th minute. Sophomore Case Manifold ghosted to the goal line and cut back an affable ball for freshman Oliver Kumar to sweep home.
The Hilltoppers kept searching for a consolation but found none available.
“Our mids did a great job helping out on balls at our feet,” Academy senior Aaron Hill said. “Throughout the year we got better and better when to step and when to drop and we have some good tall guys in the air.”
Albuquerque Academy players rush the field to celebrate their 3-0 win over Los Alamos Friday in the Class 4A boys soccer final. It was the Chargers’ third state championship in the last four seasons.