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High School Sports

South girls back on top of state soccer thanks to three straight shutouts

  • Author: Chris Lawrence
  • Updated: May 26
  • Published May 26

The South and Wasilla girls both entered Saturday's Division I state soccer championship match on emotional highs after huge victories the day before.

In Friday's semifinals, South dethroned two-time defending champion Dimond — ending Dimond's 56-game unbeaten streak in the process — and Wasilla beat West on penalty kicks to make it to the title match for  the first time in program history.

But Saturday belonged to South.

Grace Chartier provided the only goal late in the first half to lift the Wolverines to a 1-0 win over Wasilla at the Service High pitch.

The sophomore cut by a defender, fired a shot from just inside the box and watched it trickle through the legs of Wasilla goalkepper Aleksandra Kvalheim.

"I thought the goalie saved it, but then I saw her drop it and it just crossed the line," Chartier said. "So, yeah, that was really nice to see."

South controlled most of the first half. The Wolverines generated four shots on net while their goalkeeper, Alex Nowka, only needed to stop one shot that half.

Kvalheim made a leaping save midway through the first half. A collision caused the ball to squirt free for a South tap-in, but the goal was called off moments later because of the contact.

The Warriors forced Nowka to make six saves after halftime. Among them was a stellar glove save off an Alexis Friesen shot that appeared destined for the top corner.

Wasilla's final chance to score the equalizer came from a volley up to Reese Sande with less than five minutes to play. The bouncing ball was just out of Sande's reach as Nowka came out to cradle the danger.

Nowka ended the tournament with three shutouts in three games.

"We knew we had to bring everything-plus to beat these guys," Wasilla coach Patrick O'Neill said. "They're on a roll, and I think psychologically when they beat Dimond that really put them
at another level."

South wasn't about to let its semifinal win against Dimond go to waste.

"You know we (played) Dimond twice a year already, so we're used to (them)," South coach Brian Farrell said.

The Wolverines structured their regular-season schedule so they would play three games in three days to replicate the state
format.

Wasilla earned a first-round bye and only had to play two games, and Farrell thought fatigue might come into play for his team. The Wolverines used nine subs in the second half to stay rested.

"It's a tactical thing to try kill some clock and get some fresh legs out there," he said. "Obviously (we) have nine months to recover so (we) can recover then."

The championship was the fifth in eight years for the Wolverines. Though Wasilla was playing in its first title game, the Warriors were making their fifth  consecutive appearance in the state tournament.

"That's what we are focusing on, that they have achieved something that no (Wasilla) team has ever had," O'Neill said. "They're bonded together for life for that."

In the Division II tournament for smaller schools, Juneau captured the championship with a 3-0 victory over Grace Christian.

Soldotna claimed third place by beating Palmer 1-0, and Kenai Central grabbed fourth place by blanking North Pole 2-0.

ASAA/First National Bank girls state soccer championships

Division I

Championship – South 1, Wasilla 0

Third place – Dimond 1, West 0

Fourth place – West Valley 2, Service 0

Division II

Championship – Juneau 3, Grace 0

Third place – Soldotna 1, Palmer 0

Fourth place – Kenai 2, North Pole 0

Division I all-tournament team

Danielle Cyr, South; Kiara Simpson, West Valley; Sofia Odron, Dimond; Jordan Foraker, South; Lauren Hepler, Service; Sylvia Xaivong, West; Nicole Catlett, Wasilla; Ali Keller, Dimond; Alexis Friesen, Wasilla; Alex Nowka, South; Reece Sande, Wasilla.

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