FAIRBANKS-The ASAA First National Banks State Soccer tournament starts tomorrow and two Interior teams are in the field. The Lathrop girls soccer team and the West Valley boys. Ladies first.
Lathrop will face the Soldotna Stars, the Northern Lights Conference Champions. The Stars are also undefeated with a 15-0 overall record, 12-0 in the NLC.
The Lathrop Malemutes make their first appearance in the state tournament since 2007 after a 1-0 win over West Valley in what turned out to be the MAC title game. The Mutes finished the year 9-0-2 overall and 6-0-2 in the MAC.
The Malemutes do like they're matchup. Lathrop has an offense that can score at anytime with Karli Fitzgerald, Alexis Shipman and Savannah Garrett. They're also confident in a defense that has allowed only two goals all season which features sophomore goalie Mikayla Triplehorn who has nine shutouts this season.
The young team is excited about their opportunity and they don't feel too much pressure going into the biggest games of the young high school careers.
"I think, for the most part our team is very confident going in and I think as long as everyone is healthy we'll be very strong and come out strong in the first game," senior midfielder Song Ebbesen said,
Freshman forward Alexis Shipman remembers the journey that brought the young Malemutes to the state tournament.
" We really worked hard indoors. Anchorage had grass before us so we were still inside so we were working even more harder before we could come out on the grass and it was really cool that we made it."
"They've gotten the job done all year long and were hoping that continues down in state cause that's going to be a major factor," Lathrop head coach Dan Gibson said. "We're going to see a lot more pressure than most the teams we've faced earlier and we've just got to hold our own."