FAIRBANKS-In high school soccer the MAC championships were decided on Saturday evening in a double header. The Lathrop Malemutes hosted cross town rival West Valley.
In the girls game a win would clinch a state berth for either team. This was a close and very physical game throughout.
Karli Fitzgerald, the top scorer in the region, fired one towards the goal in the first half and Kaleigh Sparks got two hands on it but just couldn't get the save. The ball bounced off the near post after Sparks initial grab and Lathrop is up 1-0 at the 19th minute.
A scare for the Mutes in the second half as sophomore goalie Mikayla Triplehorn tried to save a shot going far post and she collided with the post. But she was able to finish the game.
Triplehorn and the Lathrop defense went into shutdown mode after that. They held off West Valley who had a number of chances and corner kicks late but Lathrop wins 1-0.
Winning the MAC title for Lathrop ends West Valley's six year reign and the Malemutes will go to state for the first time since 2007.
"We're super excited. It's been awhile since Lathrop has gone to state," Triplehorn said after recording her ninth shutout in 11 games. "It's our senior night so we want to do it for our seniors and we're just really proud on we play and how they played."
"We just try to push hard to every single ball. Defense really came out for us today. We couldn't have done it without them," Fitzgerald said.
Lathrop head coach Dan Gibson gets his first MAC title and aims to make good use of the time off for his team before the state tournament at the end of the month. Saturday's game was the season finale while most other MAC teams have two games left.
"Well number one get healthy, you know we're a little banged up and number two is take next week of practice, get a little better and go down and compete."