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Story Last modified at 6:56 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cobb snatches the throne
Chugiak girls power to CIC soccer championship

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak's Elyse Perez smiles while getting a hug from teammate Sue Fleurant following the Mustangs' 1-0 win over Dimond in the Cook Inlet Conference girls soccer tournament championship game on May 21 at Anchorage Football Stadium.

photo:Sports

Chugiak's Kelly Cobb eludes Dimond's No. 18 during Chugiak's 1-0 win in the championship game of the Cook Inlet Conference tournament on May 21 at Anchorage Football Stadium. Cobb scored the game's lone goal, and finished with seven of Chugiak's 10 goals in the three-game tournament.

Led by the undeniable queen of Alaska prep soccer, the Chugiak girls were crowned Cook Inlet Conference royalty with a 1-0 win over Dimond on May 21 in the championship match of the CIC tournament at Anchorage Football Stadium.

"She's an impact player," said Lynx coach Terry Curran following the match. "We did about as good a job as we could to contain her, but she's a great competitor."

The player in question – in case you hadn't guessed – was Mustangs senior Kelly Cobb, who scored the game's only goal when she took a pass from Jessi Beverlin and ripped a nasty right-footed shot past Lynx keeper McKenzie Karjala.

That it was Cobb doing the scoring should have come as no surprise to anyone who'd seen Chugiak's run through the CIC tourney. In Chugiak's 6-1 tourney opener against Eagle River on May 19, Cobb scored three times in the first 13 minutes to end the Wolves' upset dreams early. The next day, she scored all three goals in the Mustangs' 3-2 win over South. Add it all up and it comes out to seven goals, three games and a first CIC title in Chugiak girls soccer history.

After the championship, Cobb was quick to point out her teammates' role in bringing the trophy home to South Birchwood.

"Now that we know we can do it, we've gained confidence," she said.

Cobb wasn't entirely a one-woman show. Holly Brehmer scored twice against Eagle River and Sue Fleurant added another. And goalie Bekah Zellers was more than solid in shutting out the Wolverines, especially during a tense final 10 minutes that saw South rip several dangerous balls toward the net.

The win will give Chugiak a No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament, which begins today at Chugiak's Tom Huffer, Sr. Stadium and Dimond's Alumni Field. The Mustangs will face No. 8 seed Wasilla at 3 p.m. at Huffer Stadium. A win there would put Chugiak in an 11 a.m. semifinal on May 27 – possibly against Dimond, which plays Soldotna in the other opening round game.

The state championship match is set for 3:15 p.m. on May 28 at Dimond.

Chugiak lost to both South and Dimond – both of whom are also in the state tourney – during the regular season, and coach Paul Brehmer said he doesn't think his team's CIC win will make them overconfident heading into state.

"I don't think so. I think had they blown out some of these teams, maybe, but they've been beaten by some of these teams."

Mustangs captain Kendra Bulawa said the CIC crown was nice, but it's not the ultimate prize.

"We're pushing to win state, and this is a good showing," Bulawa said after the CIC title game. "We've peaked at the right time, and hopefully we've got a couple games left in us."

While their counterparts head into the state tourney, the Eagle River Wolves are heading into a summer of promise. Though they were shown an early exit, coach Lauren Mason said she believes her side – which finished fifth in the CIC this year and had a winning record for the first time in school history – is poised to continue its path toward the top of the conference.

"We're trying to change the culture, trying to raise the expectations here," she said. "These girls kind of set the foundation."

The Wolves lose two players to graduation – Becca Boggs and Elisa Shannon – and Boggs herself predicted big things in the years to come.

"We've got four, five, six solid players coming in that have been working a lot," she said. "Definitely next year Eagle River is going to be pushing for those top three, four seeds."

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



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 25, 2011.