Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Cook Inlet Academy's Kate Zimmerman guards her goal during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy's Kate Zimmerman guards her goal during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

CIA soccer’s winning streak comes to end

All good things must come to an end, and so it went for the Cook Inlet Academy coed soccer team Thursday evening at the Kenai Complex soccer fields.

The Eagles saw the end to their long winning streak in the Aurora Borealis Conference fall soccer program with a 6-0 dud to Delta Junction.

Fueled by five goals by Nathan Anderson, Delta became the first team to beat CIA since, well, they did so in 2012.

“They’re younger and they’ve lost some of their big players,” said Delta coach Dave Schmidt. “They’re going to have a season to improve, and I expect with (CIA coach Kenny Leaf), they will.”

Since the Huskies last beat the Eagles three years ago, CIA has established itself as a dominant force among state teams that play the fall season.

Delta and CIA have faced each other in the Aurora Borealis Conference championship tournament finale — the de facto state tournament for fall soccer — the last two years, with the Eagles coming away as winners both times with 3-2 and 6-0 game wins.

Last September, coach Leaf estimated that the last outright loss for CIA came in Game 6 of the 2012 campaign. With two straight undefeated seasons to their name, the Eagles had compiled a streak of 62 consecutive games without a defeat.

Until Thursday.

“I’m actually very refreshed about that,” Leaf said about the record. “We don’t really talk about it. Like there’s no streak. Every season is a new season, and it’s a season for those players to own.”

At last year’s Aurora Borealis Conference tournament, CIA did not allow a single goal. With four straight conference titles to their name, CIA is not backing down now that it has finally lost.

“I think these kids’ focus is that they want to get better,” Leaf said. “If things go rough, we’re going to go through it together.”

With a 16-1 record in 2011, a 21-1-2 effort in 2012, a 21-0 run in 2013 and a 22-0 mark last year, it all adds up to a four-year total (plus two games) of 81-1-4. CIA opened its season last Friday with a 4-1 win over Birchwood Christian.

However, coach Leaf said he believes the tough times serve to really see what a team is made of.

“I think you grow more through something like this than when you are winning every game,” Leaf said.

Leaf pointed to roster changes as the biggest factor in Delta’s win over CIA. With three seniors gone from last year’s squad — Ashleigh Hammond, Riley Smithwick and Madison Orth — and a further five more not playing due to transfers or homeschooling, Leaf has had to reload with only three returning starters.

The three returnees are goalkeeper Brady Hammond, center back Noah Leaf and center mid Connor Leaf.

“We recognize every year that we are just a completely different team from the year before,” Leaf said. “It’s been a fact that we’ve been getting better and better, but it is just different chemistry each season.”

All three graduated seniors were All-Conference players. Additionally, Orth is currently attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a member of the track and field team.

One of the most crucial losses came in Timmy Smithwick, a senior this year that transferred, along with sophomore brother Johnny, to Soldotna High School. Both Smithwick’s decided to try out for the SoHi football squad this season.

Last year alone, Timmy scored over 50 goals in 22 games. With that kind of scoring prowess suddenly gone from the team, CIA is facing a tougher road.

But coach Leaf is not pointing to any player losses as the reason for the Eagles demise to Delta on Thursday.

“I say this to everybody, but we join with the parents in educating their children,” Leaf said.

Delta had 37 players turn out this year, while CIA had about half that number.

“They’re a good team and very well-coached team,” coach Schmidt said.

With the long winning streak bookended by losses to Delta, it appears that it was only appropriate that the Huskies were the ones to end the domination Thursday night.

“(Schmidt) is such a classy guy and his teams win and lose with such class, it was very good,” Leaf said. “If we had to drop one, I think (Delta) would be the team to do it.”

CIA will face Holy Rosary at the Kenai fields Saturday at noon.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Cook Inlet Academy's Connor Leaf takes control of the ball during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy’s Connor Leaf takes control of the ball during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Cook Inlet Academy's Brady Hammond kicks during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy’s Brady Hammond kicks during a game against Delta Junction on Thursday August 20, 2015 in Kenai, Alaska.

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