South boys secure state soccer title with shutout

jpeters@adn.comMay 25, 2013 

  • ASAA/1st National Bank
    State soccer championship
    Saturday’s results
    Chugiak High

    South 3, Colony 0

    Third place
    West 4, Dimond 3

    Fourth place
    Juneau 5, Wasilla 1

— With two nifty goals from Connor Gonzalez, another from Eyob Imlach and a stellar defensive performance that included more than one acrobatic save from goalie Griffin Toomey, the South boys soccer team claimed a fifth state title Saturday.

The Wolverines played an almost flawless match to beat Colony 3-0 at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium, winning it all for the first time since 2009 and handing the Knights their first loss of the season.

"We peaked at the right time," South senior defender Ron Perry said. "At the beginning of the year we played good ball relying on individual talent, but we peaked at the right time as a team and came together."

All three goals came in the first half. On the rare occasion Colony managed to fire a threatening shot in the second half, Toomey was there to flash quick hands and feet to make the save.

"I love this guy," Imlach said with his arm around Toomey after the game. "Best goalie in the state and we could not have done it without him."

The offensive firepower came primarily from Gonzalez, who was inches away from recording a hat trick.

What appeared to be his third goal was later credited to Imlach, who fired a crossing shot that wound up rolling almost parallel to the goal line and then over it just before Gonzalez came crashing in to drive the ball into the back of the net.

"I saw the ball roll in, past the line, but Connor over there wanted to get his hat trick," Imlach said. "They announced it wrong. It's all good. He doesn't need three goals, two goals is enough."

Gonzalez notched the match's first two goals in such dazzling style that taking away his third didn't diminish his impact.

His first strike came in the 12th minute on a low blast through traffic that slipped just inside the left goal post from about 20 yards out. The ball left his foot with such force, the Colony goalkeeper had no chance.

Gonzalez was quick to celebrate with his hands in the air as he ran back to midfield.

"When I hit the first strike and I saw it beating the goalie, I just turned and saw my team scream," he said.

Gonzalez was at it again in the 33rd minute, turning what looked like a hard shot from teammate Taylor Zietlow into a goal. Gonzalez was stationed near the left goal post during a corner-kick set. Zietlow blasted a ball from the top of the penalty box and Gonzalez redirected the low rocket into the upper left corner of the net.

"(Zietlow) said it wasn't a shot," Gonzalez said. "It was laces, but if it wasn't a shot, it was a good pass."

South finished the season 15-3-1, with one of its three losses coming in a 1-0 affair against Colony (16-1-1). Fatigue hurt the Wolverines in the previous meeting with Colony, Gonzalez said, and South was determined not to let it happen again.

"I think both teams came in a little tired after both playing overtime yesterday," Colony coach Jeremy Johnson said. "South, they outplayed us today and deserve the win."

Colony needed two overtime victories to reach the championship, taking down Juneau in Thursday's first round and Cook Inlet Conference champion West in a Friday semifinal. South needed overtime to knock off defending state champion Dimond on Friday.

"It was an incredible season, right up until today," Johnson said. "We had lots of adversity to overcome with fields and things, shoveling our field and getting it clear and playing two matches and then having it snow two feet and having to shovel it all again. I couldn't be more proud of them."


West 4, Dimond 3

Powered by a pair of goals from Henry Vasquez, the West boys claimed third place with a 4-3 win over Dimond.

Davis Ortland and Carson Klever also notched goals for the Eagles.

Matthew Cerveny knocked in two goals for the Lynx, with Kerrick Eagle adding another.


Juneau 5, Wasilla 1

The Juneau boys cruised to a fourth-place finish with a 5-1 win over Wasilla.

Goals from Antonio Hafferty, Marc Heifetz and Nick Stewart established a comfortable lead, with Jackson Lehnhart tacking on two insurance goals.

Elijah Crawford deposited Wasilla's goal.

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.


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