7 Interior soccer programs compete at state tournament, racking up wins along the way

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 9:27 PM AKDT
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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.

Division I

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.

Lathrop Boys

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 YearJeremy JohnsonColony
1st TeamEli KrozelColony
1st TeamGavin McMullenColony
1st TeamDimitri CatlettColony
1st TeamAdam RaygorWest Valley
1st TeamAlex EmersWest Valley
1st TeamIsaac DershinLathrop
1st TeamMark MatthewsColony
1st TeamSeth PhilipsWest Valley
1st TeamRobbie HuntingtonWest Valley
1st TeamAddison DobbsColony
2nd TeamCaleb LovejoyWasilla
2nd TeamNathan HoopLathrop
2nd TeamCameron HillWasilla
2nd TeamMarco ZambranoLathrop
2nd TeamRyan ThomasLathrop
2nd TeamConner DonleyWasilla
2nd TeamBen KraskaLathrop
Good SportAddison DobbsColony
Good SportJimmy EvansLathrop
Good SportJohnny PeckWasilla
Good SportDeland KugzrukWest Valley

Railbelt All-Conference Team (Girls)

Coach of the YearJeremy JohnsonColony
1st TeamSamantha JohnstoneColony
1st TeamAubrey StaceyWest Valley
1st TeamJarah HoopLathrop
1st TeamLydia BusheyColony
1st TeamAlia ShaneWasilla
1st TeamTaylin FrakerWasilla
1st TeamAshley AttlaWest Valley
1st TeamHannah AemiseggerLathrop
1st TeamTaylee RossLathrop
1st TeamChloe DolmanWasilla
2nd TeamShea AlanivaColony
2nd TeamKayley HutchingsColony
2nd TeamKiara ShaneWasilla
2nd TeamElena PrichardWest Valley
2nd TeamMaisey O’NeilWest Valley
Good SportKatie AdamsColony
Good SportPresley SarkisianLathrop
Good SportMarrissah McDanielWasilla
Good SportMegan DowWest Valley

Division II

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.

Monroe Girls

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.”

Monroe Boys

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 QueenNorth Pole
Will GoodNorth Pole
James AlsheireNorth Pole
Gabe HollettNorth Pole
Riley WaltersNorth Pole
Wilson WadeNorth Pole
Jase McCulloughMonroe
Billy BastMonroe
Evan PuryearMonroe
Hunter MattesonEielson
Martin RamierzEielson

Mid Alaska All-Conference Team (Girls)

Katy VintonNorth Pole
Desi DutraNorth Pole
Lauren SchammelNorth Pole
Jadynn HeneikenNorth Pole
Kayla BryanNorth Pole
Katie BastMonroe
Shelby EidenmillerMonroe
Brityn WardMonroe
Esme PeschkeMonroe
Jonnie VannMonroe
Anna Marie ClarkEielson

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