For the revenge-minded among Chugiak's boys soccer team, tonight's opening round Cook Inlet Conference tournament clash with West should be nirvana.
The Eagles sent Chugiak packing in the first round last season, handing the No. 4 seed a 4-0 thumping.
"Last year we felt we had a better team and it just didn't happen," said Chugiak coach George Campnell.
This season, Chugiak is the No. 3 seed after finishing 9-5-2 overall and 7-5-2 in the CIC. But if the Mustangs want to avoid a second-straight early exit, Campnell said the team will have to avoid looking past the Eagles.
"These are pretty smart guys, I think they'll know what it's going to take," Campnell said.
Chugiak plays West at 8 p.m. in the final game of a CIC triple-header at Dimond High that also includes No. 7 Eagle River against No. 2 South at 6 p.m.
The Wolves finished 2-10-2 in the CIC and 4-12-2 overall. And though they were swept by South, coach Luke Almon doesn't think his squad should be counted out against the Wolverines.
"I'm more confident in our ability this year than in years past because we have better all-around soccer players," Almon said.
Chugiak will enter the tournament coming off an ugly 2-0 loss to Service on May 14.
"We stunk," Campnell said of his team's play in the finale.
He's hoping the last-game blahs will turn out to be just a minor hiccup.
"I'm hoping they're holding out until the end," Campnell said.
The Wolves will enter the tourney on a high note after posting a 1-1 tie with Service on May 9 and a 2-1 win over Thunder Mountain on May 13. Addie Platt scored against Service, and Platt and Mikai Hulse had the goals against Thunder Mountain.
Almon said the Dimond High venue could be an advantage against the fast-paced Wolverines, who swept Eagle River during the regular season.
"Playing at Dimond, it's a way more compact field than ours, and that kinda plays to our advantage because South likes to spread you out and try to expose you once they've got the defense spread out," he said.
If the Wolves can stymie the Wolverines, he said, anything is possible.
"Hopefully we can get a counter and run onto a ball and get one or two (goals) for ourselves and get a favorable result," he said.
He's also confident that if his team can force a tie, goalie Jordan Oberlander can hold his own. Oberlander has been a wall for Eagle River, and has saved three penalty kicks this year.
"I'd definitely take Jordan in a shootout against South," he said.
The winners of tonight's games advance into the semifinals on May 20 at Anchorage Football Stadium.
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 694-2727
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.