Ruby Wright

Palmer's Ruby Wright (left) and Soldotna's Meijan Leaf battle for the ball Thursday, May 23, 2019, at the Div. II state soccer championships in Eagle River.

WASILLA — Reese Sande had stood in the position before.

Earlier this season, with her team trailing by a goal against rival Colony, Sande buried a penalty kick during the final minute of play to force a 1-1 tie.

Thursday, Sande found herself in a similar position. And once again the Wasilla standout came through for her teammates. Sande placed a penalty kick in the upper right corner of the net during the 97th minute of play, to give the Warriors a 1-0 overtime win over West Anchorage during the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Division I State Soccer Championships girls soccer tournament at West High School.

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“That’s a lot of pressure,” Wasilla head coach Patrick O’Neill said. “You want a finisher in that position, someone used to facing the goal and shooting. There’s a calmness and composure about her. She was able to handle the situation and the pressure and knocked it in.”

Wasilla knocked off West in the state tournament for the second straight year. Last season, Wasilla edged the Eagles by the same score in the semifinals and fell to South Anchorage 1-0 in the state final. O’Neill said considering how close the matches were last year, the Warriors spent extra time on penalties kicks during the days leading up to the state tournament.

“We spent three days prior to state,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said Wasilla goalkeeper Aleks Kvalheim also stood out in the win. West’s better chances came from outside the box, O’Neill said, but Kvalheim used her range and vertical leap to deny West’s best opportunities.

Wasilla now faces South Anchorage in a rematch of the 2018 title game Friday at 1 p.m. in the semis.

Wasilla is one of two Valley team in the girls semifinals. Colony also moved forward with a 4-0 victory over Service.

“We controlled throughout,” Colony head coach Jeremy Johnson said.

Gabby Wakaliuk scored a pair of goals for the Knights. Bella Brown and Kira Fagerstrom also scored. Colony took a 1-0 lead at about the 25th minute, its first of three scores within about a 15-minute span.

Colony will play Dimond Friday at 3 p.m. in the girls semifinals.

Colony boys return to semifinals

Colony, the 2018 runner-up, is back in the semifinals. And the Knights dethroned the defending state champion in the process.

The Knights used four second-half goals to notch a 4-2 win over Dimond during the Division I boys quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Service High School in Anchorage.

Dimond edged Colony 1-0 in a shootout in the 2018 final.

Noah Krozel led Colony with a hat trick in the victory. Kyle Dearborn also scored.

Dimond carried a 1-0 lead into the second half. But despite trailing, Colony head coach Jeremy Johnson said the Knights played well during the first 40 minutes.

“I felt like we held control the whole game. We were really bombarding them during the first 10 minutes, then they scored. After that we spent the rest of the fist half down in their end,” Johnson said.

Krozel converted a penalty kick during in the second half to tie the score at 1. Minutes later, Michael Sliwa served a ball into the box, and Dearborn knocked in a header from the left side. Krozel scored again to give Colony a 3-1 lead, this time on a play set up by Ethan Overland. Krozel notched the hat trick with a header into the upper corner, on a play set up by Connor Friesen.

The Knights will face Service Friday at 5 p.m. in the boys semifinals.

Wasilla also played in the Division I boys quarterfinals, suffering a 3-0 loss to West Anchorage. The Warriors will now face South Anchorage Friday at 11 a.m. at Eagle River in the boys’ consolation semifinals.

Moose fall in Division II quarters

The Palmer boys and girls both fell during the first round of the Division II state tournament. Juneau-Douglas beat the Palmer boys 6-0. Soldotna scored a 4-0 win over the Palmer girls.

The Moose boys now face Monroe Catholic Friday at 1 p.m. at Eagle River in the consolation semifinals. The Palmer girls will play Homer Friday at 11 a.m. at West High in the consolation semifinals.

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

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