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Story Last modified at 12:11 a.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chugiak boys find their rhythm on pitch
Eagle River looks to threaten in the homestretch

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak's Jake Wells tries to get his foot on the ball before Bartlett goalie Alix Harrison during Chugiak's win over the Golden Bears on April 21 at Chugiak.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Winning has a way of curing all evils.

Early in the season, Chugiak's boys soccer team was struggling to find itself after a couple sloppy performances and a pair of early losses. But with the season now in its final weeks, the Mustangs were riding high after posting their fifth straight victory in a 3-0 win over East on April 25 at Chugiak's Huffer Stadium.

"I don't know if we've played a complete game yet, but we've played the majority of our last three games solidly," said coach George Campnell. "We're getting our rhythm back."

After a scoreless first half against the T-Birds, Chugiak got a goal by Brad Fussner in the opening minute of the second half to seize the momentum. Shane Topf followed with a goal three minutes later, and Brandon Boyer added the final tally in injury time.

Chugiak, which went to 6-2-1 with the win, hasn't lost since falling to South on May 29.

The East victory came on the heels of a pair of convincing wins by the Mustangs, who took out Bartlett 7-1 on April 21 and bested West 3-1 on April 23.

Campnell said it's important for his team to be playing well now that the season is nearing the home stretch.

"Our goal is to distance ourselves from the group and get into those top three spots," Campnell said.

Jake Wells scored twice against West and Topf added the third. Brad Fussner assisted on all three tallies.

Against Bartlett, Szliard Bott opened the scoring with a goal on a corner kick in the second minute and the Mustangs never looked back, getting goals from Wells, Pat Mullett, Keaton Rasic, Fussner, Nick Macalino and Nathan Macalino in the 7-1 romp.

Also playing well of late have been the Eagle River Wolves, though they're not quite ready to challenge for Cook Inlet Conference supremacy just yet.

Eagle River recently put together a couple tough defensive efforts, battling to a scoreless draw against East on April 21 and nearly getting the same result in a 1-0 loss to Dimond on April 23.

photo:Sports

Eagle River's Addie Platt goes up between a pair of East defenders for a header during the Wolves' 0-0 tie with the T-Birds on April 21 at Eagle River.
STAR PHOTO by Matt Tunseth

Against East, goalie Jordan Oberlander was the hero once again, preserving his second straight clean sheet by making a crucial save on an East penalty kick.

"He saved us today," said coach Luke Almon after the game.

Against the high-powered Lynx (which hammered Eagle River 6-1 earlier this month), Eagle River kept things even until late in the second half, when Dimond finally ended Oberlander's nearly three-game scoreless streak.

Things weren't quite so nice against South, which got a pair of first half goals from Grant Warnke and a second-half Andrew Hornak strike to cruise to victory.

"Jordan just wasn't plugged in tonight," Almon said of his senior keeper.

Despite the setback, Almon said he's been pleased with what he's seen from the Wolves of late.

"We're looking at the homestretch of the season being where we want to be," he said. "If we can get healthy in the last half of the year, we can pose a threat."

Matt Tunseth can be reached at matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com or 694-2727, Ext. 215.

Boys Soccer scores

April 21

East 0, Eagle River 0

Chugiak 7, Bartlett 1

April 23

Dimond 1, Eagle River 0

Chugiak 3, West 1

April 25

South 3, Eagle River 0

Chugiak 3, East 0

April 26

Chugiak 6, Eagle River 1



This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, April 28, 2011.