Bella Brown

Colony’s Bella Brown celebrates with her teammates after scoring the lone goal during a 1-0 win over Wasilla Friday.

PALMER — The Colony Knights needed only a tie to secure the Railbelt title and the conference’s top seed in the upcoming Division I state tournament. But after more than 78 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Knights found a way to notch the win.

Bella Brown knocked in a header set up by a Samantha Johnstone free kick from the right side of the field during stoppage play to give the Knights at 1-0 win over the Wasilla Warriors Friday night at Colony High School.

“It was great to come out with a victory, and get the conference championship,” Colony head coach Jeremy Johnson said after the win. “It’s been a tough go every year against Wasilla. They’re a great side.”

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Johnson said the goal was part of clutch play by a pair of key athletes.

“She’s great,” Johnson said of Johnstone. “She does a great job. She served a really nice ball into the box. That’s kind of our thing with Bella, find her in the box. She has seven goals this year, and five have come through the air.”

With the advantage in the conference standings, Colony could rely on its stout defense, Johnson said, a group that includes juniors Stirling Elliot, Madison Elliot, Madison Wakaliuk and senior Mykaela McMullen.

“We’ve got the same backline since I started,” Johnson said of his time as the Colony girls head coach. “I’ve never known anything but the twins and Mykie and Maddie.”

That group allowed the Knights to follow their script.

“We felt like we played the game we wanted to play,” Johnson said. “Don’t make mistakes.”

Not much separated Wasilla, the 2018 Division I runner-up, from the conference crown. A scoreless tie against West Valley and the 1-0 loss to the Knights proved to be the difference.

Wasilla converted a late penalty kick to force a 1-1 tie when the Valley rivals played earlier this season. Friday, the Warriors were unable to find the back of the net.

“Their defense doesn’t give you much room,” Wasilla head coach Patrick O’Neill said after the loss.

Wasilla made adjustments after halftime.

“We pushed up two extra forwards in the second half to try to get that goal,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said, considering Colony’s advantage in the standings, he expected the Knights to focus on defense.

“We knew coming in the tiebreakers were off the table and they were going to play tough defensively,” O’Neill said. “It’s a good game to prepare us for the state tournament. That’s how it’s going to be.”

Colony boys blank Wasilla

Shawn McMillan and Kyle Dearborn each notched a hat trick to lead Colony to a 9-0 win over Wasilla Friday night at Colony High School.

Sullivan Menard, Noah Krozel and Connor Friesen also scored.

Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com.

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