Hilltopper Alix Hailey scores the game winning goal in the 2nd overtime to beat St. Pius 3-2. The Hilltoppers advance to play Aztec at 10 a.m. Friday. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
BERNALILLO – Plenty of action, plenty of excitement, and two overtimes. What else would you expect from a state playoff game?
The #6 Los Alamos Hilltoppers girl’s soccer team needed two overtimes to upset #3 St. Pius Sartans 3-2 Thursday morning to advance to the semifinals of the New Mexico Activities Association State Tournament.
St. Pius got things started when Sartan senior Miranda Hart was able to plant, set and strike for the first goal of the match. The lead didn’t last long. ‘Topper junior Alissia Haagenstad floated a 25-yard strike over the Sartan goalkeeper to tie the match at 1.
The match would go back and forth with both teams having chances but neither being able to capitalize. That was until Hart was able to drill a deflection off ‘Topper goalkeeper Ashley Atencio to give St. Pius the 2-1 halftime lead. Atencio made plenty of athletic saves in the match. The Hart goal was a right place, right time situation.
At the half, head coach Ann Cernicek applauded the ‘Toppers effort and reminded her team, “the only difference is [St. Pius] converted one more chance than you have.”
Los Alamos came out fighting in the second half, tying the game at 2 when junior Alix Hailey scored off a rebound from a Haagenstad attempt.
The ‘Toppers remained the aggressors, kicking shot after shot but never converting for a goal. The second half would end in a stalemate leading to overtime.
In the first overtime period, Los Alamos remained the better team with plenty of chances but none going in.
After the teams switched sides of the field for the second overtime period, the ‘Toppers took advantage of a fatigued St. Pius team. After wearing down the Sartans, Los Alamos was able to advance the ball late in the period for a Haagenstad attempt. St. Pius goalkeeper Kassandra Ascevez deflected the kick to a waiting Hailey who walked the ball into the net for the walk off 3-2 win.
“We went down early [and] I thought we responded,” Cernicek said after the match. “I thought we attacked better in the second half, but the shots weren’t falling. When we got to overtime, I felt really good about it because of the nature and fitness of our team.”
“I think we did amazing right from the get-go. All of our energy was amazing and helped us with our motivation,” Alix Hailey said after the match.
Hailey finished the game with two goals, none more important than the golden goal in the 8th minute of the last overtime.
Los Alamos moves on to the semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday to take on the second seeded Aztec Tigers who beat Los Lunas 1-0. The winner of the semifinal match advances to the state championships against the winner of Albuquerque Academy and Farmington.