7 Interior soccer programs compete at state tournament, racking up wins along the way
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After the entire 2020 high school soccer season was wiped away, players from across Alaska got a chance to compete on the big stage this past weekend in Anchorage.
West Valley Girls
The Wolfpack were the lone Interior program to pick up a win on opening day of the state soccer tournament in an overtime thriller with West Anchorage. Ainsley Watson deflected and corralled an Eagles’ attempt to clear the ball in front of the net, making it just her and the keeper 1v1 - where Watson won the battle - pocketing the first goal of the game about midway through the first half. Holding the lead for most of the contest, West Anchorage was successful on a corner kick attempt that tied the game at one, eventually sending it to overtime. Sometimes at state, you need a bit of luck, and the Wolfpack received just that with a mix of Hannah Willis’ awareness to push the ball. From 35 yards out, Willis sent a pass between two Wolfpack players in front of the net, splitting the difference and meeting an Eagles’ knee instead. The ball deflected off the defenders knee and towards the goalkeeper, who was hesitant to use her hands as it went off her teammate - and before the keeper could make an official decision - the ball bounced into the back of the net, giving the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead and eventual win with Gwendolyn Bunch holding it down in net.
Facing South Anchorage in the semifinals, the Wolfpack did not have enough firepower to match the Wolverines, falling 4-0. In a 3rd/5th place matchup, West Valley took on a Railbelt Conference opponent in the Colony Knights, a program they were not able to defeat during the regular season. It all came together in their final game of the season, defeating the Knights 3-0 and taking 3rd place at the Division I state tournament. Aubrey Stacy and Maisy O’Neill were named to the All-Tournament team.
West Valley Boys
Drawing West Anchorage in the opening round, West Valley wasn’t able to produce enough offense in their 2-0 loss, sending them to the consolation bracket. In about as evenly matched contest one could get, the Wolfpack and Chugiak Mustangs ran up and down the field to a 0-0 tie by the end of regulation - and both overtime periods. Down to penalty kicks, David Stark, Lucas White and Seth Phillips were able to find the back of the net, but it wasn’t enough to match Chugiak’s four penalty makes, concluding their season in the second round.
“The season tried us all — COVID restricted the number of teams we could play and our match development— we are a young team with a lot of talent — despite being overmatched a few times this year, the lads held it together and went toe to toe with strong teams,” head coach Howard Maxwell wrote to KTVF. “The team worked hard and played for each other and the coaches were proud of their development. The Wolfpack men’s soccer future is bright with strong freshman class and a good class coming in as well. We will reload and compete for the conference and state titles next year!”
Junior Adam Raygor was named to the All-Tournament team.
Dropping their opener 3-0 to the Service Cougars, Lathrop’s season was on the line in round two against a talented South Anchorage team that defeated West Valley the day prior. While the Wolverines struck first, Tucker Sarkisian answered with a goal from a cross less than two minutes later to tie the game. With the clock reaching the final 10 minutes, Isaac Dershin netted an indirect kick inside the box for the game winning goal, lifting the Malemutes to a 2-1 win and keeping their season alive. Facing Chugiak in the finale, Lathrop lost 3-0, as Dershin was named to the All-Tournament team.
Railbelt All-Conference Team (Boys)
|Coach of the Year||Jeremy Johnson||Colony|
|1st Team||Eli Krozel||Colony|
|1st Team||Gavin McMullen||Colony|
|1st Team||Dimitri Catlett||Colony|
|1st Team||Adam Raygor||West Valley|
|1st Team||Alex Emers||West Valley|
|1st Team||Isaac Dershin||Lathrop|
|1st Team||Mark Matthews||Colony|
|1st Team||Seth Philips||West Valley|
|1st Team||Robbie Huntington||West Valley|
|1st Team||Addison Dobbs||Colony|
|2nd Team||Caleb Lovejoy||Wasilla|
|2nd Team||Nathan Hoop||Lathrop|
|2nd Team||Cameron Hill||Wasilla|
|2nd Team||Marco Zambrano||Lathrop|
|2nd Team||Ryan Thomas||Lathrop|
|2nd Team||Conner Donley||Wasilla|
|2nd Team||Ben Kraska||Lathrop|
|Good Sport||Addison Dobbs||Colony|
|Good Sport||Jimmy Evans||Lathrop|
|Good Sport||Johnny Peck||Wasilla|
|Good Sport||Deland Kugzruk||West Valley|
Railbelt All-Conference Team (Girls)
|Coach of the Year||Jeremy Johnson||Colony|
|1st Team||Samantha Johnstone||Colony|
|1st Team||Aubrey Stacey||West Valley|
|1st Team||Jarah Hoop||Lathrop|
|1st Team||Lydia Bushey||Colony|
|1st Team||Alia Shane||Wasilla|
|1st Team||Taylin Fraker||Wasilla|
|1st Team||Ashley Attla||West Valley|
|1st Team||Hannah Aemisegger||Lathrop|
|1st Team||Taylee Ross||Lathrop|
|1st Team||Chloe Dolman||Wasilla|
|2nd Team||Shea Alaniva||Colony|
|2nd Team||Kayley Hutchings||Colony|
|2nd Team||Kiara Shane||Wasilla|
|2nd Team||Elena Prichard||West Valley|
|2nd Team||Maisey O’Neil||West Valley|
|Good Sport||Katie Adams||Colony|
|Good Sport||Presley Sarkisian||Lathrop|
|Good Sport||Marrissah McDaniel||Wasilla|
|Good Sport||Megan Dow||West Valley|
North Pole Girls
All-Tournament member Desi Dutra began her exceptional weekend by scoring the lone goal off an assist from Katy Vinton for the Patriots in a 3-1 opening round loss to Homer. A triumphant 2-1 victory over Palmer sent North Pole to a 4th/6th place matchup with the Redington Huskies. Dutra capped off her season by completing a hat trick before halftime, which was more than enough for the Patriots to take down the Huskies 4-1 on their way to a 4th place finish. Kayla Bryan would go on to pocket the fourth goal on a free-kick in the second half, helping North Pole secure their best placement at state in program history.
“[The] Girls were challenged early in the week to give everything to the field. They had a little more adversity in their season and had to overcome a lot,” head coach Damon Crutcher said. “They were competitive enough to be in the winners bracket, but came up short. They hung tough and kept battling to be the highest placing girls team in program history. I was extremely thankful to coach the North Pole girls this weekend seeing the strides they made each game. Top class performance.”
North Pole Boys
Following a similar fate as the girl’s team, North Pole fell in their opener 2-0 to Juneau-Douglas, before bouncing back in a big way with a 3-1 victory over Palmer. With their backs against the wall Saturday, Gabe Hollett scored a goal with less than 5 minutes remaining to tie the game and send it into overtime against Grace Christian. In OT, it was none other than the senior captain Riley Walters scoring the game-winning goal in his final high school soccer game as North Pole claims 4th place at state.
“The boys were sensational all year,” Crutcher said of the boy’s squad. “We were expecting a rebuild coming in given we graduated 8 starters last year who didn’t even have a chance to finish their high school careers because of COVID. But these boys came in from day one and gave everything. Capped with a come from behind golden goal (first to score) victory for 4th place at state. Not only did they make history getting the first victory at state in program history, but they also placed for the first time today. I’m extremely proud of them for fighting back after a hard start to the weekend.”
A historic weekend for North Pole soccer. Oscar Queen, who assisted on Walter’s game-winning goal, was named to the All-Tournament team.
In their first season as an independent program separate from the boys in over a decade, the Monroe Catholic girls accomplished what many others couldn’t - punching a ticket to the state tournament.
Drawing Soldotna in the first round, who eventually made it to the title game, Monroe dropped their opener 9-0. In a much better showing on Friday, the Rams went toe-to-toe with the Redington Huskies, eventually falling 4-3 in a tight contest, concluding their season.
“It was great having both boys and girls Monroe soccer teams finally,” said John Mayer, head coach of both programs. “They are great to work with and despite always being outnumbered, and having very few dedicated soccer players, they consistently played hard and played clean, and gave it their all. It’s a young team and I’m hoping we have most of them come back next year and build on this season.”
The Monroe Boys had a tough draw in the opening round - the 2021 state champion Thunder Mountain Falcons. The Rams saw goals Jase McCullough and Evan Puryear, but it was not enough in a 9-2 first round loss. Taking on Grace Christian in the consolation bracket, Monroe fell 7-1 to the Grizzlies, concluding their season.
Mid Alaska All-Conference Team (Boys)
|Oscar Queen||North Pole|
|Will Good||North Pole|
|James Alsheire||North Pole|
|Gabe Hollett||North Pole|
|Riley Walters||North Pole|
|Wilson Wade||North Pole|
Mid Alaska All-Conference Team (Girls)
|Katy Vinton||North Pole|
|Desi Dutra||North Pole|
|Lauren Schammel||North Pole|
|Jadynn Heneiken||North Pole|
|Kayla Bryan||North Pole|
|Anna Marie Clark||Eielson|
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