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Story Last modified at 9:33 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aggressive play gives Mustang girls edge
Soccer players tackle final indoor play next week, gear up for outdoors

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Eagle River's Jackie Klecka tries to corral the ball as Chugiak's Holly Brehmer rushes on to apply pressure during Chugiak's 2-0 Cook Inlet Conference win at The Dome in Anchorage.

They're not at full stride, but the Chugiak Mustangs are beginning to ramp up their pace after a dominant 2-0 win over Eagle River on April 9 at The Dome.

"A win is a win, we'll take it, but we still have a lot of work to do," said Chugiak's Sue Fleurant, who scored Chugiak's second goal just 12 minutes into the match.

Fleurant's tally was set up by a feed from Kelly Cobb, who dribbled nearly to the end line before flicking the ball to Fleurant directly in front of the goal.

"I just easily passed it into the goal," Fleurant said.

Five minutes earlier, Cobb engineered the game's opening goal on a similar play, drawing a crowd of defenders before hitting Trystyn Hall for the easy finish.

"She's a smart enough player to know if (she) just dribbled past three players, somebody's going to be open," said Wolves coach Lauren Mason of Cobb.

The early trickle of goals never turned into a flood, however, thanks to some dogged defending by Eagle River and the gritty play of Wolves goalie Kelsey Reeves, who kept several sure goals out of the net.

"She did a great job, right up until the very end," said Chugiak coach Paul Brehmer of Reeves.

Reeves actually stoned Cobb just seconds before full time, holding firm in the face of the onrushing Mustangs star and cleanly catching a point-blank blast. The big save earned Reeves a congratulatory handshake from Cobb as the whistle sounded.

"She's a very strong goalkeeper, very consistent," Mason said.

Chugiak, which spent most of the game on offense, also hit a post and the crossbar.

Despite the lopsided possession battle, Mason said she was pleased with the way her troops stood tall in the face of Chugiak's relentless onslaught.

"To defend for 80 minutes and only give up that many, that's OK," Mason said.

photo:Sports

Eagle River goalie Kelsey Reeves holds onto the ball after making a save in the face of pressure applied by Chugiak's Tori Fishburn during Chugiak's 2-0 win at The Dome on April 7. Also pictured is Eagle River's Evan Schmidt.

The loss dropped Eagle River to 2-2, while the Mustangs improved to the same season record.

The match was a physical one, with the Mustangs more often than not playing the role of aggressors. Holly Brehmer put a couple Wolves on their hind ends with strong challenges, and Fleurant earned herself a yellow card with a reckless hit that send Gabrielle Mordini limping off with a leg injury.

"We know we need to play physical and win the 50-50 balls," Fleurant said. "Obviously we're not trying to hurt anyone, but we're trying to go hard for everything."

Fleurant said she would have liked to see a couple more goals, and believes the team has a ways to go before it's in top form.

"We just need to play up to our potential," she said.

As for the Wolves, Mason said she was happy with the defensive effort, but that her team needs to find a way to switch the field more often.

"We've gotta get better at quickly playing the ball and looking out wide," she said.

She doesn't believe a defense-only style can work over the long haul.

"You get scared, you stay very deep and at that point the other team has a lot of time and space to play into and it's kind of a never-ending cycle," she said.

Chugiak girls 1, West 0

Sue Fleurant scored in the 30th minute to help Chugiak improve to 3-2 with a 1-0 win over West at The Dome on April 11.

Mustangs coach Paul Brehmer said the game was a battle right up until the end.

"It was a good effort. Both teams worked hard the entire game," he said.

Chugiak's final indoor game of the season is April 16 against Bartlett.

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

MUSTANGS 2, WOLVES 0

April 9, The Dome

Chugiak 2 0 – 2

Eagle River 0 0 – 0

Chugiak – Hall (7th), Fleurant (12th)

MUSTANGS 1, EAGLES 0

Chugiak 1 0 – 1

West 0 0 – 0

Chu – Fleurant (34th)



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.