PALMER The Colony boys soccer team was dialed in for Saturday's Northern Lights Conference championship match, defeating Skyview 2-1 in a golden goal overtime game at Colony High School.
"I'd say that's the best output we've had this year," said Colony forward Temu Maki, who scored the game-winning goal 24 seconds into the sudden death overtime period. "It all happened so fast. I was running toward goal and then the ball was right there. I didn't even have time to think."
The junior scored his goal off a centering pass from Gerald Miller, catching the Panthers off-guard.
"We didn't expect that to happen," Skyview coach David Carpenter said of the sudden end to the game. "The official just blew the whistle to start golden goal play and then it was over."
Colony coach Jeremy Johnson attempted to take credit for the bang-bang play that won the game, but admitted he simply put Miller in as a sub to relieve a weary Ian Walton.
Miller had his hand in another quick goal during the game as he sent a similar pass across the goal that was redirected off the head of Brian Carpenter two minutes into the first half.
Despite allowing the early goal, the Panthers refused to surrender. Instead, they turned up the pressure, forcing Colony goalie Jake Williams to make eight saves in the first half.
But it wasn't a one-sided game. The Knights peppered Panther goalie Matt Stalnik with 11 first-half shots.
"That was a well-played game by both teams," Carpenter said. "We both had scoring chances, but the keepers were up to the challenge."
Things didn't slow in the second half as Williams made seven more saves, and Stalnik stopped eight.
"Skyview put a lot of pressure on us," Johnson said. "But the difference is that we were able to handle the pressure because of our technical ability. You could see it when we moved it around."
Jason Smith knotted the match for the Panthers, assisted by Gabe Fellman. Carpenter said Smith's goal wasn't particularly pretty Smith took a pass from Fellman and the ball trickled across the goal line after he collided with the charging Colony keeper but it got the job done.
Carpenter credited Stalnik and forward Kyle Eshleman with a great tournament, and added that Region III player of the year Trevor Barber lived up to expectations.
The victory marked the sixth time in the last ten years the Knights have won the conference championship.
"We expect to be in this game, playing for the championship every year," Johnson said. "But to win it on our home field is special for this team and the five seniors."
By advancing to the Region III title match, Colony and Skyview each earn automatic bids to next week's Alaska School Activities Association State Championships in Anchorage.
Colony notched a spot in the title game with a pair of wins a 2-0 shutout of Soldotna and a 4-3 victory over cross-town rival Palmer on Friday.
Skyview defeated Grace Christian 4-2 in the first round. Kyle Eshelman scored a pair of goals to lead the Panthers to a 2-1 win over Wasilla in the semifinals.
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