Ef­fi­cient Academy keeps rolling

Charg­ers foil Los Alamos again, and the best may be yet to come

Albuquerque Journal - - HIGH SCHOOLS - BY NOAH SELIG­MAN

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.”

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

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.

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