Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy midfielder Breonna Delon (38) fights for the ball against Birchwood Christian's Bjorn Peterson Thursday at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy midfielder Breonna Delon (38) fights for the ball against Birchwood Christian's Bjorn Peterson Thursday at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

CIA coed squad opens Aurora Borealis tourney with victory

A fast start propelled the Cook Inlet Academy coed soccer team to an opening day victory at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

The Eagles opened the season-ending tournament with a 3-1 win over Birchwood Christian, the No. 4 seed from the south division. CIA is the top seed from the south, but the No. 2 seed overall, only below northern team Delta Junction.

With the win, the Eagles will face Susitna Valley, 2-1 overtime winners over Lumen Christi, today at 2 p.m.

Senior striker Noah Leaf got the party started with a patient strike just eight minutes in. Leaf caught a cross from the right side and sent a shot to the far side of Birchwood goalkeeper Bradley Nunley for a 1-0 Eagles lead.

Sophomore midfielder Logan Largent scored in the 36th minute to put CIA up 2-0. After 40 minutes, the home squad was leading by two and had outshot Birchwood 6-2.

However, the Eagles would not be able to relax against the Warriors.

“They play very tough,” said CIA coach Kenny Leaf. “A 2-0 lead is a dangerous place to be.”

The Warriors turned up the pressure in the second half, finding space in CIA’s half of the field and eventually scoring in the 64th minute thanks to Landen Wohrle, cutting the lead in half.

“We didn’t have much control or possession, I felt we were just watching the ball,” Leaf said.

Birchwood continued pressing, but CIA goalkeeper Brady Hammond fended off several stiff challenges.

The attack eventually backfired on Birchwood, as Leaf battled for a through ball in the Warriors zone in the final minute of the game and won, tapping in his second goal of the contest when the goalie could not handle the ball.

CIA’s semifinal clash today against Su Valley, the second seed from the north division, is a rematch of last year’s third-place game at the tournament, which CIA won in penalty kicks. Earlier this year, the Eagles beat Su Valley 3-1.

“From here on out, we just got to stay relaxed and play with heart,” Leaf said. “It’s kind of back to basics for us.”

In other games Thursday, top seed Delta edged Tri Valley 1-0 with a late goal, Holy Rosary prevailed 3-1 over Nenana, and Birchwood came back in the evening to top Wasilla Lake 6-1.

In addition to CIA playing Su Valley in the semifinal bracket, the other semi will match up Delta and Holy Rosary at 3:30 p.m. In the third-place bracket, Birchwood will play Lumen Christi at 12:30 p.m.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy senior goalkeeper Brady Hammond gets his mitts on a ball early in Thursday's action at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy senior goalkeeper Brady Hammond gets his mitts on a ball early in Thursday’s action at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy striker Noah Leaf (9) winds up for the kick against Birchwood Christian Thursday morning at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy striker Noah Leaf (9) winds up for the kick against Birchwood Christian Thursday morning at the Aurora Borealis Conference tournament at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy defenders Adara Warren (white) vies for the ball against Birchwood Christian's Stephen Sterling Thursday morning at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy defenders Adara Warren (white) vies for the ball against Birchwood Christian’s Stephen Sterling Thursday morning at the Kenai Sports Complex fields.

More in Sports

Allie McLaughlin sets the new record at the women's Mount Marathon Race on July 4, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Colorado’s McLaughlin smashes Forsberg’s record at Mount Marathon

Oregon’s King becomes race’s oldest winner

Peninsula Oilers starter Carson Seeman delivers to the Mat-Su Miners on Sunday, July 3, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Oilers drop Saturday, Sunday, Monday contests to Miners

The Peninsula Oilers continue to be in games, but can’t find a… Continue reading

People in an inflatable kayak fish off the end of the Homer Spit on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Reeling ‘Em In: Fishing gets exciting with snagging opener

Southern Peninsula fishing reports and updates for the week of June 28

tease
Oilers take down Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 8-5 in Alaska Baseball League… Continue reading

Hannah Lafleur of Seward defends her title in the women’s Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Full Mount Marathon party is back on in Seward

The Mount Marathon Race in Seward is back and better than ever… Continue reading

tease
Miners hold off Oilers

The Mat-Su Miners held off the Peninsula Oilers 3-2 in Alaska Baseball… Continue reading

Post 20 Twins catcher Jacob Belger flies out against the Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits at the Bill Miller/Lance Coz Wood Bat Tournament on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
River Bandits topple Twins for wood bat title

Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits general manager Randy Bachman has been… Continue reading

Anna and I in Seward, Alaska, on June 9, 2022 after waiting in Cooper Landing for almost three hours.
Out of the Office: Time well spent

There really only seem to be two seasons in Alaska: winter season… Continue reading

Most Read