Once again, the Skyview boys soccer team proved it can do more than just compete with Anchorage teams. The Panthers can beat them as well.
Proving Thursday's victory over Dimond was no fluke, Skyview defeated Chugiak 3-2 at Wasilla High School Saturday to take third-place at the state soccer tournament. It is the first time a team from the Kenai Peninsula has ever won two games at the state soccer tournament.
The third-place showing came after Skyview gained even more credibility by seriously challenging Juneau-Douglas in a 2-1 loss in the semifinals Friday.
Skyview's firm grasp on respect came courtesy of a dramatic Trevor Barber goal in the final minute Saturday. With the score tied at 2, Sean Mallette played a through ball to David Lliteras, who was fouled just to the left of the top of the penalty box.
A wall of Chugiak players set up to defend the near post, but Barber foiled their defense by lofting a deft chip to the near-post corner. Barber said he knew that shot was open, but he also knew that placement would be more important than power if he wanted to garner the game winner.
"I wanted it all the way," Barber said. "When I stepped up to it, I had a good feeling. I cracked it good."
With his second goal of the match, the junior also shattered any notion that Kenai Peninsula teams can't compete with Anchorage.
"I think we knew we could do well, but I think we shocked ourselves and played an awesome tournament," Barber said. "It proves any peninsula team can come up here and compete with Anchorage teams.
"I'm proud of what this does for Skyview soccer and for peninsula soccer."
Chugiak took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute when James Chavez knocked in a volley from the top of the penalty area.
However, as the game wore on Skyview found more and more room to work in the midfield and set up its attack.
"They left the midfield open more than Juneau and Dimond," Barber said of Chugiak. "We're a midfield team. We won the midfield and we eventually won the game because of that."
Barber equalized in the 28th minute, when Elliott Gauthier played a ball into the box and Barber fired the ball past the goalie's right side.
Skyview took the lead in the 10th minute of the second half. Kyle Eshleman crossed the ball to Mallette, then bolted for the goal post. Mallette played the ball back to Eshleman, who converted his wide-open chance in front of the net.
Juneau-Douglas' Keil Urata, left, and Skyview's Sean Mallette leap for a header in a state championship semifinal match Friday, May 21, 2004, in Wasilla, Alaska. Juneau advanced to the championship match with a 2-1 victory.
AP Photo/Michael Dinneen
Skyview continued to press the attack, but the Panthers were caught on a counterattack in the 19th minute when a turnover in the midfield led to a 2-on-1 and a second goal by Chavez.
As the clock wound down, both teams pushed forward looking for the win. It appeared Skyview would be the first burned by this strategy with a minute left, when goalie Matt Stalnik came out of his box to challenge a through ball. Stalnik got to the ball first, but only cleared it 10 yards. Chugiak collected that clear and worked it toward the Skyview net, where Stalnik was somehow waiting when the Mustangs put a shot on net.
"I saw him go out for that challenge and when he didn't win that challenge, I thought, 'OK, we're down one,'" said Skyview coach Dave Carpenter after his team finished the year at 13-3 overall. "I don't know how he did that one. That's Matt."
Just seconds later, Skyview earned the free kick that would win the game.
"Carpenter said (the Kenai Peninsula) is known as only playing punch-and-run," Stalnik said. "We came out and passed it around the midfield. We proved we can hang with Anchorage teams."
In Friday's game at Wasilla, Juneau came out crisp early. Crimson Bears coach Gary Lehnhart suspended four of his key players the night before the game. The coach knew the first part of the game would be crucial to getting his team on track after the suspensions.
Sophomore forward Dylan Ashe got the Bears going with some great attempts on goal. After a wicked volley missed just high seven minutes into the match, Ashe struck for a goal 17 minutes into the match on a pass from Kabil Seesan.
The Panthers continued playing with a lot of effort, but Juneau continued to press the attack for the first 25 minutes of the first half. Stalnik kept Skyview in the game with several brilliant saves.
"Their goalie was great," Lehnhart said. "I thought we had at least three shots that were ticketed for the back of the net."
Skyview started having some success attacking, and in the 27th minute, Sebastian Spicher's header on a free kick from Chatchay Apaipak rattled around the goal mouth before getting cleared.
Shortly after, Juneau's Nathan Schroeder scored on a quick counterattack to provide the game with one of its key turning points.
"That goal was partly my fault," Skyview coach Dave Carpenter said. "We started attacking well so I pushed the defense up. I got a bit greedy."
To start the second half, Juneau had several great chances for a two-goal lead, but Stalnik made the necessary saves.
Then in the 12th minute of the second half, Barber and Lliteras brought the Panthers to life. Barber got the ball at midfield and dropped a diagonal long ball just in front of a streaking Lliteras.
Juneau goalie Matt Walton left his line looking to corral Barber's pass, but the pass was too perfect. Lliteras touched the ball over Walton for a 2-1 game.
"After that, we thought, 'We can play with these guys,'" Stalnik said.
Skyview played with peak emotion after the goal, controlling the midfield for the first time in the game.
Schroeder, a senior who missed the state tournament last year with a broken neck, once again restored order with a textbook counterattack. In the 19th minute of the second half, he caught Skyview's midfield too far forward and carried the ball three-quarters of the length of the field. The attack resulted in a shot off the crossbar.
Skyview tried to press more and more as the game wore on, but Juneau's defense kept them from great scoring opportunities.
"I thought we did a good job of salting the game away," Lehnhart said.
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