Eagle River's Zach Reinbold knocks a header during the team's hard-fought match against the South Wolverines April 11 at the Dome, while Josh Oberlander is at the ready.
STAR PHOTO by Matt Tunseth
Eagle River didn't flinch in the face of a nonstop South attack on April 11 at The Dome, earning high praise from coach Luke Almon despite the final 3-0 score in favor of the Wolverines.
"We probably played our best game of the year tonight," Almon said.
South peppered Eagle River goalie Jordan Oberlander with 13 shots, forcing the senior keeper to make save after difficult save.
"He made some key saves," Almon said.
South controlled the action thoroughly, racking up 12 corner kicks the Wolves had just one and Almon said the fact that the Wolves kept themselves in the game was a major positive.
"You can't be displeased with that, South has a really talented team," he said.
South opened the scoring with a nearly unstoppable shot by Hayden Western in the eighth minute. The sophomore surprised Oberlander with a shot from distance and at a wicked angle, banging the ball off the far post and into the net.
Eagle River managed to regroup after that, and the Wolves' best chance of the game came about five minutes later when Addie Platt's shot into an empty net was cleared off the goal line by the final South defender.
Just three minutes after that, the Wolves began getting under the skin of the Wolverines with some courageous defending, including a strong tackle by Eric Mora on South's Kirdby Hutto that halted what had been a dangerous run in its tracks.
"I think the difference between tonight's game and those before was that we challenged most 50-50 balls," Almon said.
Hutto got revenge later in the half. Finding himself unmarked while trailing the play, the South midfielder took a drop pass from Grant Warnke and found the top corner of the net.
"We should have been standing in the shooting lane on that one," Almon said.
The Wolves were nearly perfect defensively in the second half, keeping most shots from distance and clamping down on South runs. Their only mistake came in the 78th minute, when a failed clearance fell to Hutto at the top of the box. Hutto didn't hesitate, wheeling and firing past Oberlander for his second score of the game.
The loss dropped Eagle River to 0-5 on the year, but Almon said that if the team can continue to fight like it did against South, the wins will start to come.
"The best we can ask ourselves is hustle enough to make it a contestable game and then when you get the few opportunities you get, you take 'em," he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or email@example.com.
WOLVERINES 3, WOLVES 0
South 2 1 3
Eagle River 0 0 0
South Western (7th), Hutto (35th), Hutto (78th)
Cards Warnke, South (Yellow)
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.