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Girls 4A soccer: Familiar foes Academy, Hope reach final

SANTA ANA PUEBLO – District 2-4A rivals Albuquerque Academy and Hope Christian will clash one more time, this time for state supremacy in girls 4A soccer.

The top two seeds outlasted their opponents and weathered the weather Thursday to gain their spots in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. championship match as the second-seeded Huskies try to upend the No. 1 Chargers’ bid for a threepeat.

ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 2, LOS ALAMOS 1, 2OT: Chargers goal-scoring maven Eliza Mariner has a knack not just for putting it in the net, but doing so in dramatic fashion.

“I have a tendency to do that, score at the last minute,” she said.

Mariner did it not once, but beating the clock and the Hilltoppers (15-6) at the end of the first half and again seconds before the end of the second overtime.

“It was unbelievable,” Chargers coach Peter Glidden said. “That was just an incredible team performance to stay with it the entire, whole 100 minutes. To play that hard and stick with it and still feel like you’re going to get a goal against an amazing Los Alamos team.”

The Chargers (20-2) easily handed Los Alamos 5-0 in the Academy tournament early in the year, but LAHS showed this was not going to be a similar outing.

The Hilltoppers bent and bent under the relentless wind in the first half, but kept the prolific Chargers at bay, at least until time was winding down. That’s when forward Tessa Anderson lofted a ball inside the six-yard area.

“I got a ball in the air and there were people on either side of me and everything around me went blurry except for the ball,” Mariner said. “And then I dove with my right foot and I flicked it with the outside of my right foot and it just hit the top of the net. That’s all I saw. I don’t remember exactly what happened. But all I saw was it hitting the top of the net and experiencing pure joy.”

That joy quickly evaporated just three minutes into the second half when goalkeeper Lorelei Logan tried to clear a ball and instead hit it right at Los Alamos forward Alix Hailey. Hailey’s grounder at the open net rolled excruciatingly out of reach across the line for the equalizer.

The overtime periods were fairly uneventful until the closing seconds, when Anderson again found Mariner.

“It was a quick counter,” Mariner said. “I knew I had beaten two defenders. Tessa played me the ball and I knew I could head it past that girl and just slip it in the back of the net. That’s something I do. That’s my signature thing. I knew I needed this. My team needed this. My coach needed this. My fans needed this. I don’t remember doing it, my body just carried it out. And I just ran back and hugged everyone I knew.”

No. 1 ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 2, No. 4 LOS ALAMOS 1 (2OT)

Los Alamos 0 1 0 0—1

Albuquerque Academy 1 0 0 1—2

Scoring: AA, 40th, Eliza Mariner (Tessa Anderson); LA, 43rd, Alix Hailey (unassisted); AA, 100th, Mariner (Anderson).

Shots on goal: LA 11; AA14. Corner kicks: 3; AA 4. Saves: LA, Anna Lemke 12; AA, Lorelei Logan 10. Rec.: AA 20-2, LA 15-6

Los Alamos 0 1 0 0—1

Albuquerque Academy 1 0 0 1—2

Scoring: AA, 40th, Eliza Mariner (Tessa Anderson); LA, 43rd, Alix Hailey (unassisted); AA, 100th, Mariner (Anderson).

Shots on goal: LA 11; AA14. Corner kicks: 3; AA 4. Saves: LA, Anna Lemke 12; AA, Lorelei Logan 10. Rec.: AA 20-2, LA 15-6

HOPE CHRISTIAN 1, ST. PIUS 0: The Huskies (18-2-2) got a goal in the 13th minute from Desi Perea from about six yards out, then grimly hung on against the Sartans (13-7-1).

“It was off a direct kick, a little bit outside of the box,” Perea said. “It kind of ricocheted off of a couple of girls and it bounced like right in the middle and I just kicked it to the far post and it just slid past the goalie.”

Then it was a matter of dealing with the elements, Huskies coach Kristal Coker said.

“Just play defense,” Coker said of the team’s strategy. “With this wind that was so unpredictable, we just had to hold it back and play defense.”

No. 2 HOPE CHRISTIAN 1, No. 3 ST. PIUS 0

St. Pius 0 0—0

Hope Christian 1 0—1

Scoring: HC, 14th Desi Perea (unassisted). Shots on goal: SP 2; HC 3, Corner kicks: SP 1, HC 6. Saves: SP Gabby Jeantete 2; HC Cassi Wright 2. Rec.: HC 18-2-2; SP 13-7-1.

(Click here for the Girls 4A bracket.)

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