High School Sports

South girls and West boys beat the heat and their opponents to advance to Alaska DI state soccer title games

On an unseasonably hot day at the West High stadium known as the Nest on Hillcrest, the South girls team and the West Eagles boys battled the heat and their respective opponents to reach the Division I Alaska State Championship round on Friday.

“The goal all season and before the season even started was to be playing on the last day and we are,” South coach Lauren Meehan said.

The Wolverines scored a pair of goals, one in each half, in their 2-0 win over Chugiak. Freshman Faith Hughes got South on the board first at the 24:31 mark and junior Madison McDonald tacked on another with less than a minute left in the game.

“It was tough conditions out here playing against a physical opponent,” Meehan said. “(These are) temperatures we’re not used to in Alaska but the team stayed together, they worked so hard for each other and we were able to get a couple quality finishes.”

With the win, they advanced to their fifth straight state championship game, excluding the canceled COVID-19 season in 2020. The Wolverines will be facing off with their rival Dimond Lynx for the third and final time this season in the title tilt in the same matchup that has decided the last four state championships.

“It’s always a battle between the two of us and I’m excited that it’s happening on the biggest stage,” Meehan said. “We’ve been the top two teams all season in the state and it’s great to see that work out.”

Meehan said winning would mean a lot to the seniors on the team who have made it to the state championship in every season they’ve had in high school but have yet to be crowned champion.

“They’ve just been such great examples, great warriors, great pillars of this program and it’s all I could want for them,” Meehan said.

The West boys, playing on their home field, took a 2-1 victory over Colony while the sun was still high in the sky and unrelenting with its heat.

“It’s not true to Alaska to be 75 (degrees) in May but it’s testing us and the boys have to be smart about hydrating and taking care of their bodies and proper dieting,” West coach Kaleb Kuehn said.

Colony, the No. 6 seed, was fresh off an upset of West Valley in the opening round. The second-seeded Eagles were less than 24 hours removed from a battle with Service that went into three extra periods. West eventually prevailed over the reigning state champions in a 5-3 shootout.

Despite having just played nearly an extra half the night before, the Eagles came out with plenty of energy and intensity. They scored both of their goals in the first half and held on late to secure the win.

“We’ve been working hard all season to stay in shape for these moments and I think we proved that today,” Smith said. “We just wanted it more and we came out and showed that.”

Their first goal was scored by senior Quinn Smith at the 35:35 mark and their second came less than five minutes later when his fellow senior, Misha Turchaninov, found the back of the net on a free kick.

“When my teammate Isaac (Main) laid it off, I knew it was going in,” Smith said. “It was the perfect pass and I could just drill it into the corner.

The Division I boys state title will feature another regular-season rematch when the West and South boys square off for a third and final time. They tied in their first matchup and the Eagles bested the Wolverines 2-1 in their second-to-last game of the season.

“South is a very talented team,” Smith said. “It should be a very close intense match that we fight to the end with and hopefully we take care of business.”

The Division II games that were played at West earlier in the day when the sun was at it’s highest point saw the Grace Christian girls team triumph 1-0 over Homer. The Thunder Mountain boys defeated Grace Christian 3-0 to set up an all Juneau matchup in Saturday’s state title game.

“It’s going to be fun,” Thunder Mountain senior Talon Briggs said.”It’s going to be super heated and it’s good to play against people you know because you can predict them. You know what they do and in some ways it will be an advantage for us.”

Against Homer, Grace Christian girls senior Leah Buller found the back of the net at the 38:53 mark to give her team a narrow lead that they would cling to until the end.

“It was very rewarding,” Buller said. “My team does everything they can help me get up there and get that goal. It gave us that sense of energy to keep pushing. It definitely pushed us through that game.”

The Mariners had what would’ve been a game-tying goal by Minadora Reutov nullified by an offsides penalty and couldn’t get any of their shots to past Grace Christian senior goalkeeper Peyton Blanton as she completed the shutout.

“I saw the flag immediately go up so I knew before she even kicked that she had gone offsides,” Grace Christian coach Jeff Schaezlein said. “(Peyton) has been outstanding all year.”

The last time the Grizzlies girls team made it to the state title game was four years ago and they finished as runner-up to Juneau-Douglas. A win on Saturday would secure the first championship in program history.

Thursday-Saturday

At Eagle River, Service and West

Division I Boys

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Dimond 2, No. 8 Eagle River 0

No. 4 South 2, No. 5 Lathrop 1

No. 6 Colony 3, No. 3 West Valley 0

No. 2 West 2, No. 7 Service 1 (shootout)

Friday’s results

Consolation

Lathrop 1, Eagle River 0

West Valley 2, Service 1

Semifinals

South 1, Dimond 0

West 2, Colony 1

Saturday’s games

Fifth place

Lathrop vs. West Valley, 11:30 a.m. at Eagle River

Third place

Dimond vs. Colony, 11:30 a.m. at West

Championship

South vs. West, 4:30 p.m. at Service

Division I Girls

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Dimond 6, No. 8 Wasilla 0

No. 5 Service 1, No. 4 Lathrop 0

No. 6 Chugiak 2, No. 3 West 1

No. 2 South 2, No. 7 West Valley 1

Friday’s results

Consolation

Lathrop 1, Wasilla 0

West Anchorage 3, West Valley 0

Semifinals

Dimond 3, Service 0

South 2, Chugiak 0

Saturday’s games

Fifth place

West vs. Lathrop, 1:15 p.m. at Eagle River

Third place

Service vs. Chugiak, 1:15 p.m. at West

Championship

Dimond vs. South, 6:30 p.m. at Service

Division II Boys

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Juneau-Douglas 5, No. 8 Soldotna 0

No. 5 Kenai Central 1, No. 4 Ketchikan 0

No. 3 Thunder Mountain 3, No. 6 Palmer 1

No. 2 Grace Christian 4, No. 7 North Pole 1

Friday’s results

Consolation

Ketchikan 1, Soldotna 0

Palmer 1 North Pole 0

Semifinals

Juneau-Douglas 4, Kenai Central 0

Thunder Mountain 3, Grace Christian 0

Saturday’s games

Fifth place

Ketchikan vs. Palmer, 9 a.m. at West

Third place

Kenai Central at Grace Christian, 9 a.m. at Service

Championship

Juneau-Douglas vs. Thunder Mountain, 11:30 a.m. at Service

Division II Girls

Thursday’s results

No. 1 Juneau-Douglas 6, No. 8 Houston 0

No. 5 North Pole 5, Ketchikan 0

No. 3 Homer 1, No. 6 Kenai Central 0

No. 2 Grace Christian 2, No. 7 Soldotna 1

Friday’s results

Consolation

Ketchikan 2, Houston 0

Soldotna 2, Kenai Central 1

Semifinals

Juneau-Douglas 8, North Pole 0

Grace Christian 1, Homer 0

Saturday’s games

Fifth place

Ketchikan vs. Soldotna, 9:45 a.m. at Eagle River

Third place

Homer vs. North Pole, 9:45 a.m. at West

Championship

Juneau-Douglas vs. Grace Christian, 1:30 p.m. at Service


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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