Winds strong enough to take out four tents and a port-a-potty weren't enough to slow West and South in their opening games at the Division I state soccer championships Thursday at Service High.
West advanced with a 1-0 last-second goal against Service, while South dispatched West Valley 2-0.
West defender Julia Johnson provided late-match heroics with a left-foot boot that sailed across Service goalkeeper Autumn Monkelien's gloves. Sylvia Zaivong booted the ball to the middle off a corner kick and a failed clearance landed at the foot of Johnson, who scored with seconds remaining in stoppage time.
"If I overthink things like that it doesn't work out for me, like quickly," Johnson said. "I was kind of wondering if I should cross it or not, but there weren't a lot of people in the box. I just thought I'd give it a shot."
West was held without a shot attempt in the first half. The Eagles made halftime adjustments, and with the wind at their backs, they responded with seven shot attempts and three on net in the second half.
"We made some adjustments in the middle," West assistant coach Kaleb Kuehn said. "We were getting killed in the midfield so that was making it really difficult and also dealing with conditions, it was really windy out here."
Service had several quality chances. The Cougars fired nine shots, forcing West goalie Gabrielle Laipenieks to make seven saves.
"They played well, I'm proud of them," Service coach Mark Cascolan said. "They had to overcome a lot to get this far."
West's win was its third over Service this season, and it came despite an injury to striker Kiara Melendez.
The Eagles will play Wasilla for the first time this season in a Friday semifinal. Kuehn believes they may have an edge against a Warriors squad that earned a first-round bye in the state tournament's new six-team format.
"You know, when you're resting you don't always seem to be on top of your game all of the time," he said. "You're resting versus being game-fit."
In South's win, the Wolverines survived strong starts from West Valley at the beginning of both halves and a flurry of shots throughout to advance to the semifinals with a 2-0 win.
Jordan Foraker fired a missile over the gloves and under the bar 25 minutes in. The forward found a loose ball and cashed in from 25 yards out.
"Honestly, I don't remember (the goal)," Foraker said. "I just stuck with it and came out with the ball and saw an open net, and just went for it. (I) was lucky that it went in."
The Wolverines battled a West Valley push five minutes into the game, and again 10 minutes into the second half. West Valley managed eight shots, with five on goal, during that stretch.
South secured an insurance goal 15 minutes into the second half. West Valley goalkeeper Ashlyn Bray stopped a pair of shots, but the Wolverines drew a penalty kick on a third opportunity, and Kasey Johnson provided the game's final tally.
South head coach Brian Farrell believes a windy spring in Anchorage prepared the Wolverines well for the conditions.
"We have enough games under our belt to know how to play in those situations," Farrell said. "(West Valley was) giving it their all in the second half and we just had to weather that for a while — no pun intended."
South goalkeeper Alex Nowka provided nine saves to help her team advance to a Friday semifinal against top-ranked Dimond, which owns a 56-game unbeaten streak (53-0-3).
"We've played 'em tough two games this year," Farrell said. "Hopefully we got enough left in the tank."
ASAA/First National Bank soccer championships
South 2, West Valley 0
West 1, Service 0
Friday's semifinals at Service
5 p.m. – Dimond vs. South
7 p.m. – Wasilla vs. West
Elimination game at Eagle River
11 a.m. – West Valley vs. Service
Palmer 6, North Pole 2
Grace Christian 4, Kenai 1
Friday's matches at Eagle River
1 p.m. — Palmer vs. Juneau (semifinal)
3 p.m. — Grace vs. Soldotna (semifinal)
7 p.m. — North Pole vs. Kenai (elimination)