Eagle River's Kaitlyn Bullock (23) races Service's Marena Quint for the ball during Service's 5-0 win on March 26 at The Dome in Anchorage. The loss was the first of the season for the 2-1 Wolves.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
Before the season started, Eagle River girls soccer coach Lauren Mason said she'd be happy if her team went winless as long as the Wolves learned to play the game the right way.
Lucky for the Wolves, there's no way to tell if she was joking.
Eagle River picked up a pair of wins to open the season, beating West 1-0 in the season-opener on March 21, then crushing Bartlett 4-1 on March 24. Jackie Klecka had the lone goal against the Eagles, then scored three more times against the Golden Bears. Rebecca Boggs also scored against Bartlett.
"I'm liking our team," Klecka said.
But while they were able to get out of the gate strong, the Wolves still have a long way to go before they can fulfill Mason's ultimate goal, a fact that was evident in a 5-0 loss to Service on March 26 at The Dome.
In that game, Eagle River's players were constantly on their heels, allowing the Cougars to fire shot after shot at backup goalie Cat Jordan, who was filling in for Kelsey Reeves. Taylor Bomar led Service with a hat trick, including a pair of goals in the final 15 minutes.
Like the school's boys team, the Eagle River girls are still missing several key players because of school trips and eligibility issues.
"It's a mess," Mason said.
Mason said she's cautiously optimistic about her team's early play. The former Division I player has introduced a number of high-level concepts in her first year leading the Wolves, and said she thinks the season is likely to be a constant learning process.
"They're thinking, but it's a lot to wrap your brain around," she said.
Mason's goal is to instill as much soccer knowledge into her squad as possible between now and the end of the season in May.
"We don't have the most technical ability," she said. "We have good athletes, we have girls who work hard, but true soccer players we don't have a lot of, so right now it's just about being organized and being hard to break down. Once we get that clicking, we can start to add the flair."
Eagle River rarely threatened the Service net, but the Wolves were able to string together a few passes and often kept the Cougars bottled up in the midfield.
"There were times we were playing with them," Mason said.
She said she was particularly pleased that her squad rarely resorted to desperation mode and at least attempted to keep the ball on the ground.
"I'm not seeing a ton of kickball," she said.
Klecka said she believes that the team played well against Service despite the lopsided score.
"There's always room for improvement," she said. "But considering we were missing so many players, I think that's pretty impressive."
Contact Matt Tunseth at email@example.com or 694-2727 Ext. 215.