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Story Last modified at 10:04 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wolves' pack lacking
Short bench leads to 0-2 start for Eagle River boys soccer team

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Eagle River's Patrick Prior heads the ball away from Service's Codi Woodcock during Service's 4-0 win over the Wolves on March 26 at The Dome in Anchorage. The loss dropped Eagle River to 0-2 this season.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

After watching his team get shut out in its first two matches of the season, Eagle River coach Luke Almon said he's still waiting for the real Wolves team to show up – literally.

"Today we were playing five players short of a full bench," Almon said after the Wolves fell to 0-2 in the Cook Inlet Conference with a 4-0 loss to Service on March 26 at The Dome in Anchorage.

Of those five missing players, Almon said three are likely starters, meaning the Wolves have been rather toothless to open the year. Because they've been playing short, Almon said he's not ready to hit the panic button just yet.

"It's really hard for me to make any sort of judgment call on how things look until I can actually see the 18 players who are on my bench," he said.

Eagle River opened the season with a 2-0 loss to West on March 22. In that game, Almon said the Wolves gave up an early goal and ended up chasing the Eagles for the rest of the game.

The pattern was similar against the Cougars.

Service opened the scoring in the game's first minute when midfielder Eli Seymour's what-the-heck boot from more than 30 yards out beat a surprised D.J. Ramey and gave the Cougars a lead they'd hold all afternoon.

"An early goal is always a heartbreaker," Almon said.

Ramey was filling in for regular keeper Jordan Oberlander, one of several Wolves who are either out of town on school trips or still waiting to get enough practices to become eligible. Although he gave up four goals (Adam Klie added a pair of second-half scores and Kody Doan had the other), Ramey did make several impressive saves and Almon said he was happy with the backup's play.

"He's making up for his inexperience with athleticism," Almon said.

Despite playing with a short bench, Eagle River did manage to occasionally test the Service back line. About 20 minutes in, Addie Platt got forward and forced Service goalie Conor Deal to make a solid save on Platt's breakaway attempt.

Eagle River again nearly tied things up just before the break when Mikai Hulse's free kick beat Deal but not the crossbar, bouncing harmlessly away as the halftime whistle sounded.

"I think we hit two crossbars and a side post today," Almon said.

Almon said that in order for his team to turn the corner, the Wolves need to start hitting the back of the net instead of its support beams – something he's hopeful will start happening soon.

"I hope when we get our full team back those kind of issues resolve themselves," he said.

Almon said he expected to be without a full lineup for matches March 29 against Bartlett and April 2 against Chugiak. After that, though, he thinks the team will be ready to go for its final indoor game of the season on April 11 against South.

The coach said he thinks that game will mark a turning point because it will be the end of soccer in The Dome and means games – and practices – outdoors can't be far behind.

"Everybody kind of gets a new energy when you get outside," he said.

Contact Matt Tunseth at matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com or 694-2727 Ext. 215.

COUGARS 4, WOLVES 0

March 26, The Dome

Service 1 3 – 4

Eagle River 0 0 – 0

Ser – Seymour (1), Doan (53), Klie (59), Klie (63)



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.