Tri-Valley tops CIA for Region II title

Posted: Sunday, October 07, 2007

Tri-Valley topped Cook Inlet Academy, 2-0, on Saturday in the championship contest of the Region II Coed Soccer Tournament at Kenai Middle School.

Delta took third place with a 4-1 victory over Wasilla Lake Christian on Saturday while Heritage earned fifth place by edging Nenana, 3-0.

The teams were placed in their Saturday games according to results of Friday's pool play. There were two pools consisting of three teams.

In Friday's first game, CIA picked up a big victory when the Eagles topped Wasilla Lake Christian School 2-1.

Even though this is just CIA's first year of coed soccer, the Eagles and Rams have already developed a rivalry. The first game in CIA history was against the Rams and was a tie. The two teams tied two more times before the Rams broke through for a 3-1 victory last weekend.

In the first half, the two teams looked like anything but close rivals as the Eagles dominated. In the 18th minute, Scott Litchfield played a nice through ball to Robbie Smithwick, but goalie Taylor Roth was able to push Smithwick's shot wide.

Litchfield, who controlled the midfield in the first half, didn't give up on the Smithwick plan. Just four minutes later, Litchfield played another through ball to Smithwick, and this time he converted, banging the ball off the hands of Roth and into the goal.

Smithwick continued to be a thorn in the side of the Rams with three minutes left until halftime. This time, Tiffany Smith pushed a ball behind the defense, and Smithwick converted the breakaway for his 14th goal of the season.

"We had a nice thing going there," said Smithwick, a freshman. "Scott played the first one, then Tiffany had a really nice ball. I really liked that one."

CIA coach Kenny Leaf said many teams have a hard time matching Smithwick's speed and power.

"He's been a weapon all season long," Leaf said. "We'll send the ball wide and then hit him in the middle. When he hits the ball, it's unbelievable. When he gets inside the 12, he's just about unstoppable."

In the second half, the Rams found a way to keep Smithwick from getting those through balls. Then in the 26th minute of the half, Wasilla Lake started playing like the team that had defeated CIA 3-1.

"I don't know what his halftime speech was, but it must have been a good one," said Leaf, referring to Rams coach Ed Jenkin. "They just beat us 3-1 last weekend. They've got some good athletes and they are well-coached. That started to show in the second half."

Jenkin said it wasn't a halftime speech that got his team going. It was panic.

"That's how we played at our place last week aggressive," he said. "We knew they would start out aggressive on their home turf in front of their fans. They wanted to get revenge for last week, and they got it."

Not without a few heart-stopping moments.

In the 26th minute, Cameron Perry got the Rams going when he received a ball from Zachaery Ratzlaff at the corner of the penalty area, dribbled hard toward the end line, made a nice cut to the inside and fired past CIA goalie Garyn Munn.

The duo continued to cause problems. Four minutes later, a shot by Ratzlaff was saved by Munn, but Perry collected the rebound at the top of the penalty area. Munn's first save had taken him out of the play, but Perry's shot was cleared off the line by a CIA defender. On the ensuing corner kick, Ratzlaff collected the ball in front of the net but just missed right.

In the 33rd minute, Roth's goalie put bounced all the way down the field and Ratzlaff poked the ball over Munn and just over the crossbar. Finally, with four minutes left in the game, Wasilla Lake earned a free kick at the top of the penalty area and Ratzlaff played the ball to an open Perry, who just pushed the ball left from a tough angle.

Leaf said the goal Munn let in came from a wet ball slipping through hands on a rainy day, but also said his keeper more than made up for it in the final 14 minutes. Leaf also said defenders Shane Moffis, Matthew Moffis and Aaron Rowley were instrumental on defense .

Also on Friday, CIA defeated Nenana, 4-1, behind goals from Litchfield, Munn and Phillip Wisnewski.

Tri-Valley earned a pair of wins over Delta and Heritage by the scores of 4-2 and 3-0, respectively. Delta then went on to beat Heritage, 3-1, while Wasilla Lake Christian edged Nenana, 3-2.

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