CIA soccer takes 3rd at Aurora Borealis Conference tourney

The Cook Inlet Academy soccer team took third place at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament in Healy on Saturday.

The Eagles, who had won the last four conference titles, took third place by defeating Susitna Valley on penalty kicks. Delta won the conference title with a 3-0 victory over Holy Rosary Academy.

The third-place game was actually the last game played at the tournament. CIA had not scored on a header all season, but in the first half Noah Leaf, on a corner kick from Connor Leaf, headed the ball in for a 1-0 lead. But Jack Starbuck equalized for the Rams in the second half.

Starbuck scored again in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods, but in the second OT period, Connor Leaf bent in a corner kick for a 2-2 game. After two, five-minute OT periods were scoreless, Connor Leaf, Noah Leaf and Brady Hammond made their penalty kicks.

The Rams made their first corner kick, but then Hammond saved two, and Su Valley put another one over, to give the Eagles the victory.

“He put on a clinic in goal,” coach Kenny Leaf said of Hammond.

Friday, CIA made the semis of the tournament with a 9-1 victory over Tri-Valley. Noah Leaf had four goals, Jiabao Leaf and Connor Leaf each had two goals, and Breona DeLon added a goal. Coach Leaf also said Chase Miller was solid at center back.

Friday night, CIA lost 3-1 to Delta in the semifinals in a rematch of last year’s title game. Jiabao Leaf, a freshman who had six goals in the tournament, had the lone goal for CIA. Coach Leaf said the defense of Miller, Kate Zimmerman, Maddy Carey and Noah Leaf, and Hammond at goalie, did their best against Delta’s fine striker, Nathan Anderson.

Saturday morning, the Eagles earned a spot in the third-place game by topping Lumen Christi 2-0, with Jiabao Leaf scoring both goals. Due to an injury, Brooke Kent, Gabe Bignell and Kobe Miller had to step in, and coach Leaf said they did a good job.

Noah Leaf, Meijan Leaf and Connor Leaf were all-tournament selections, with Connor Leaf getting MVP. Meijan was honored despite breaking her shoulder 20 minutes into the tournament.

All-conference nods went to Noah Leaf, Connor Leaf and Meijan Leaf, with Connor Leaf and Meijan Leaf getting MVP awards.

Zimmerman, Kent, Chase Miller and Noah Leaf were all-academic players, while CIA also got the sportsmanship award.

It was the last tournament for seniors Connor Leaf and Sydney Carey.

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