Alaska will crown twice as many soccer champions than ever before when season-ending high school tournaments are played this week in Anchorage.
What was once a single-classification sport is now a two-classification sport, meaning there are now two state tournaments for boys and two for girls.
Action kicks off Thursday at Service and Eagle River high schools, with the girls playing at Service and the boys at Eagle River. All four championship matches are Saturday at Service.
The biggest schools will play in the Division I tournament, where the Dimond girls and South boys are the defending champions.
Smaller schools will play in the Division II tournament, where there are no defending champs.
The advent of the Division II tournament meant the downsizing of the tournament brackets, which have six teams instead of the usual eight.
Both of Dimond's teams received first-round byes in the Division I tournament, as did the Wasilla girls and Colony boys. In the Division II tournament, first-round byes went to the Kenai and North Pole boys and the Juneau and Soldotna girls.
Juneau is the only Division II school that captured a state title back when there was a single classification.
Since 2000 the Juneau boys have made it to 11 championship matches and won five of them, including two straight in 2010 and 2011.
The Crimson Bears are the last non-Anchorage team to win a girls state title, winning it all in 2004.
At Service High School
Division I girls
1 p.m. — West vs. Service
3 p.m. — West Valley vs. South
Division II girls
5 p.m. — North Pole vs. Palmer
7 p.m. — Grace Christian vs. Kenai
At Eagle River High School
Division I boys
5 p.m. — South vs. Lathrop
7 p.m. — Service vs. West
Division II boys
1 p.m. — Grace Christian vs. Homer
3 p.m. — Juneau vs. Kodiak