Juneau's Sarah Tarver (20) and Dorothy Brent (17) go up over Chugiak's Alistie Aguilar for a header during the Crimson Bears' 2-1 win over the Mustangs on May 28 in the third/fifth place game of the state girls soccer championships at Dimond Alumni Field.
STAR PHOTOS BY MATT TUNSETH
A dominant win, a heartbreaking defeat and a nonchalant finish earned the Chugiak girls soccer team a disappointing fifth place finish at the ASAA/First National Bank Girls Soccer Championships last weekend.
"Yesterday was the real disappointment," said senior captain Kendra Bulawa after Chugiak sleepwalked its way through a 2-1 loss to Juneau in the third/fifth place game on May 28 at Dimond Alumni Field. "Today was just one last game with the team kinda having fun."
The day before, the top-seeded Mustangs dropped a devastating semifinals match to Dimond, falling 2-2 (4-3) in a shootout to the team they beat just a week earlier in the Cook Inlet Conference title game.
Chugiak lost that game despite leading twice and getting to play a Dimond side that lost one of its team captains to an ejection early in the second half.
"It's extremely disappointing," said Chugiak senior striker Kelly Cobb.
Holly Brehmer gave Chugiak a 1-0 lead against Dimond, but the Lynx tied things up in the second half on a goal by Sam Castle. Cobb put the Mustangs up 2-1 in the first overtime period, but Dimond again somehow found a way to equalize things with a Bobbye Pendelton goal. Things stayed tied through the remaining overtime periods, and Dimond went 4-for-5 on penalty kicks to edge the Mustangs by one.
Cobb said the Dimond loss made it difficult to get up for the Crimson Bears in Saturday's third place finale.
"Fatigue and then just the disappointment of not going on to the state championship obviously affected the team," she said.
But, Cobb added, the losses can take nothing away from a solid season that saw the Mustangs win their first CIC title.
"I thought we had a really good season overall," she said. "And we had a really fun group of girls."
Against Juneau, Chugiak looked nothing like the team that rolled into the state semifinals with a 6-1 thrashing of Wasilla in the first round of the tournament on May 25 at Chugiak.
"The motivation just wasn't there at the beginning of the game," said coach Paul Brehmer.
Juneau scored twice in the opening eight minutes of the game, getting strikes from Solana Ashe and Bekka Ord and keeping Cobb from touching the ball for lengthy stretches of the first half.
Juneau coach Matt Dusenberry said his team had no special strategy for Chugiak's star striker other than to keep the ball in the offensive end and far away from danger.
"It was just to try to deny the ball from getting to Kelly and work defensively as a unit and I think we did well with that today," Dusenberry said.
Cobb's first meaningful touch didn't come until 20 minutes into the game (she forced a harmless corner kick), and Chugiak had just one shot on goal a 45-yard prayer by Bulawa in the entire first half.
The Mustangs didn't make things interesting until Bulawa, who pushed forward from her defensive spot as the game wore on, nailed a 20-yarder from a wicked angle that made it 2-1 with about nine minutes left. But Chugiak never got another shot on net, and the Mustangs had to settle for what might have been.
The tournament marked the final game for seniors Cobb and Bulawa, who shared the team captain duties this season with junior forward Sue Fleurant. Also graduating this season were goalie Katelyn Oldenkamp and midfielder Candice Smith.
The losses of Bulawa and Cobb will be felt the most. Bulawa was a first-team All-CIC selection who will play college soccer this fall at Division II Colorado School of Mines, while Cobb is a U.S. National team player who is set to attend Division I power Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Despite losing two of the state's top players, the Mustangs should be solid next season. In addition to Fleurant, the team will also return starting goalie Bekah Zellers and second team all-CIC selections Holly Brehmer, Tristyn Hall and Jessi Beverlin.
"I think they'll still have a strong team," Bulawa said. "I know they're losing players, especially Kelly who's such an impact player, but every team is losing players. They still have a deep bench and plenty of players who are coming up."
Bulawa said that despite the fifth place finish, the CIC champion Mustangs still proved themselves as a team to be reckoned with this season.
"We showed we were one of the top teams in the state," she said.
Cobb, Brehmer earn double honors
Chugiak's Kelly Cobb and Holly Brehmer played their way onto a pair of all-star teams announced following the Cook Inlet Conference and State tournaments. Cobb, a senior striker, was one of three local girls players named first team All-CIC, while Brehmer was a second team selection as a midfielder. Both were also named to the all-tournament team following Chugiak's fifth place finish at state.
Also named first-team All-CIC were Chugiak senior defender Kendra Bulawa and Eagle River junior goalie Kelsey Reeves. Chugiak freshman forward Tristyn Hall and sophomore midfielder Jessi Beverlin joined Brehmer on the second team.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.