High School Sports

Emotionally energized: West boys soccer team ‘extremely dangerous’ heading into state tourney

As the Alaska Division I boys soccer tournament kicks off Thursday, one of the strongest, and in their eyes, the most dangerous boys teams, is the West High Eagles.

“We’re expecting to go to the finals and win,” senior striker Isaac Main said. “That’s what we want to do, nothing short of that.”

He said the Eagles, who finished second in the CIC behind Dimond, are “extremely dangerous.”

West bolstered its CIC finish with a thrilling and highly emotional win over South Anchorage last week in which it came from behind in the second half and defeated the Wolverines 2-1.

“It was an emotional game, and I think that was the big piece and takeaway from this game,” West coach Kaleb Kuehn said. “How much emotions can play part of a factor in any game.”

After falling behind by a goal in the first half, the Eagles bounced back by scoring two unanswered within a few minutes of each other in the second half.

“(In the) first half we weren’t good,” Kuehn said. “We weren’t up to the speed and what our standards are.”

Main scored both goals for West and said getting the game-tying goal was the boost the team needed.

“There was a lot of emotions out there, but after that first one, we got back into it and it felt nice,” Main said.

Main had at least four or five wide-open shots at scoring, and even though he only managed to capitalize twice, it proved to be enough.

“He’s creating opportunities and chances, and that’s one of the things we’ve worked on,” Kuehn said.

Kuehn said at state, the team needs to take advantage of scoring opportunities.

“We haven’t capitalized on all of those chances,” Kuehn said. “I know you’re not going to do it every time but hopefully start to do it more often.”

West finished third in last year’s state tournament and has fared well against the top-contending team in the conference this year. In the opening round Thursday, West is scheduled to play Service at 7 p.m. Kuehn said coming from behind against South is a good sign the team can battle back heading into the postseason if needed.

Main doesn’t think the team has flown under the radar in the CIC and believes the team’s confidence level is very high right now, especially after beating South.

“All the teams (in conference), they know us,” he said.

West will be looking for its first state title since 1993. The closest a West boys team has come since then was runner-up in 2019, when they lost 2-0 to Colony in the title game.

Alaska State Division I and Division II Soccer Tournament

Thursday-Saturday

At Eagle River, Service and West

Thursday’s games

At Service

DI Boys West Valley vs Colony, 9 a.m.

DI Girls South vs West Valley, 11 a.m.

DI Boys South vs Lathrop, 1 p.m.

DI Girls Lathrop vs Service, 3 p.m.

DII Girls Grace vs Soldotna, 5 p.m.

DI Girls Dimond vs Wasilla, 7 p.m.

At West

DII Boys Thunder Mt vs Palmer, 9 a.m.

DII Girls Homer vs Kenai, 11 a.m.

DII Boys Juneau-Douglas vs Soldotna, 1 p.m.

DII Girls Juneau-Douglas vs Houston, 3 p.m.

DI Girls West vs Chugiak, 5 p.m.

DI Boys West vs Service, 7 p.m.

At Eagle River

DII Boys Ketchikan vs Kenai, 9 a.m.

DII Girls Ketchikan vs North Pole, 11 a.m.

DII Boys Grace vs North Pole, 1 p.m.

DI Boys Dimond vs Eagle River, 3 p.m.

2022 Cook Inlet Conference All Region Team

Boys

Joe Butzke, Diamond, Player of the Year

Thor Yeager, Dimond, Goalkeeper of the Year

Kaleb Kuehn, West, Coach of the Year

Matt Gordon, Service, GK

Abdou Abakar, South

Amadou Jobarteh, South

Brady Rufner, Service

Braeden Young, Bartlett

Breckin Fett, Service

Dakota Mateaki, Dimond

Everett Manning, Service

Franklin Antwi, Bartlett

Gianluca Durso, Bartlett

Isaac Main, West

Jin Mateaki, Dimond

Kasen Rodriguez, South

Misha Turchaninov, West

Quinn Smith, West

Rowan Brune, West

Seith Keirn, South

Simon Carricaburu, Service

Tate Metrokin, South

Tayson Mckenzie, Dimond

Girls

Tatum Porter, Dimond, Player of the Year

Bee Thao, Bartlett, Goalkeeper of the Year

Reuben Seidl, Service, Coach of the Year

Riley Castro, East, GK

Ali Adkins, South

Annika Colberg, West

Ayla Ertkin, Dimond

Brooklyn Bailey, South

Dot Tieszen, South

Ellie Schuld, Service

Faith Hughes, South

Frida Vargas, West

Keegynn Applegate, Dimond

Leiloa Fesolia, West

Madison McDonald, South

Mai Mateaki, Dimond

Makenna Harris, South

Morgan Galko, South

Parker Sullivan, Dimond

Sumiko Ramos, Service

Xiomara Chavez, Dimond

Zoe Witter, Service

Zyiah Mikes, East


Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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