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Eclipse girls bring home championship trophy

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Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:14 am | Updated: 12:16 am, Sun Jul 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Among the items that the Eclipse 2000 U-13 girls soccer team is bringing home from their trip to Minnesota is a championship trophy from the Schwan’s USA Cup International Tournament.

The 18-member squad from the Interior finished unbeaten in the five-day tournament in Blaine, Minn., which attracted than 1,000 youth teams from 17 states and 17 countries.

“If they got down, they came roaring back,” Eclipse head coach Bruce Gard said by cellphone. “They’re comeback kids and they have the most heart and hustle of any group I’ve been around and coached. I’m so proud of them.”

The Eclipse capped a 6-0 run in the five-day competition with a pair of victories Saturday, both against Minnesota teams.

“It feels awesome,” Eclipse defender/forward Jenna Pommenville said by cellphone. “We finally get the feeling of being consistent with our game, knowing that are always shocked about us being from Alaska and winning the tournament.”

The Eclipse advanced to the title game after prevailing 1-0 in a semifinal against Lakes United.

Goalkeeper Lane Pomeroy earned her third shutout of the tournament and Kiara Simpson, who had 13 goals in the tournament, provided the game’s lone tally in the second half.

“She was a rock in the goal,” Gard said of Pomeroy, who played in every game of the tournament.

Alyssa Mandich dribbled the ball up the sideline to pass to Simpson, who made a move on a defender before she scored.

“She’s a true warrior, she’s an amazing player,’’ Gard said of Simpson.

The Eclipse continued their momentum with a 5-2 championship victory over the Arsenal Renegades SC, a squad Brooklyn Park, Minn., that the Alaskans defeated 4-2 in a pool play game Thursday.

Simpson scored twice and Lauren Grahek accounted for the other three goals in Saturday’s final.

The Eclipse took a 4-1 lead in the first half and all of those games occurred in or near the box area.

The Arsenal scored the game’s first goal and Simpson responded with a rebound kick of Helenka Brice’s shot which the Arsenal keeper couldn’t control.

Simpson put the Eclipse ahead 2-1, scoring after she intercepted a clearing pass.

Simpson set up Grahek for a 3-1 lead. Simpson drew double coverage and crossed a pass to Grahek, who quickly scored in the box.

Three minutes later, Brice passed to Grahek, who scored on a broken play for the Eclipse’s three-goal lead to take into halftime.

The Arsenal opened the second half by scoring on a penalty kick that occurred because of an Eclipse tripping infraction.

Ten minutes later, Grahek seal the win with Brice’s third assist of the final. Brice executed a free kick that Grahek run under,  settled just outside of the box and turned to send it into the net.

“We were just confident that we could win,’’ Grahek said by cellphone. “We’re so close that we’ll do anything together and we knew we could win it together as a team.”

The Eclipse finished 3-0 in pool play and won 2-1 Friday in a quarterfinal against ELA Blue of Chicago.

“That was a select team from Chicago,” Gard said. “They were a super good team but our girls never gave up.”

The Eclipse played last weekend in the U-13 gold bracket of the Schwan’s USA Cup Weekend, posting a 1-0-2 record in pool play and falling 2-1 to the eventual champion from South Dakota. Simpson contributed three goals in the tournament.

Other team members are Raeann Jackson, Sophia Pritchard, Emma Kersten, Naomi Dershin, Trinity Robinson, Riley Baumgartner, Jahnna Hajdukovich, Tanner Sprankle, Gillian Winkelman, Aislynn Odsather, Kaylynn Heineken and  Kennedy Atlee. The team’s assistant coaches are Kelsi Evans, Alexis Kearney and Jenna Powers.

Contact staff writer Danny Martin at

459-7586.

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