Close games and gatherings.
That is the spirit of the Holiday Cup Soccer Tournament and the 21st annual edition did not disappoint.
According to new sponsor Marty McKeown, who sat through the 10 days of 91 soccer games by 400 of Juneau’s finest athletes, there were nail biting wins, ties, overtime play and some huge come-back wins.
The round robin play ended on Saturday with the playoffs finishing up Monday evening and the Championships played on Tuesday.
A rarity in the sports world, this was a free tourney, sponsored this year for the first time by McKeown of RE/MAX of Juneau. The Law Firm of Dillon and Findley founded the tournament and previously sponsored it for the past 20 years.
More than just soccer play though, the tournament is about coming home for the holidays and fans lined the track at the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House for a better view of the action when the field benches were too full for seating.
This is the place for those who play soccer in Juneau, young and old alike.
There was inspiring action as Speier McCormick ran, seemingly, for no reason other than to be on the field as his team was down a multitude of goals, but they came back to win.
Anna Kahklen proved to be a player who will soon be coveted in the future high school ranks.
There was tiny Leah Miller, half the size of her male defender, putting him into the turf.
And there was Jessie Mayer rocketing a goal past two defenders.
An overtime contest filled with shenanigans, in fun of course, and top turf play as a preview of players from the Crimson Bears and Thunder Mountain teams were all over the pitch.
There was college level play as Sarah Tarver and Jackson Lehnhart, among others, put on dazzling displays.
There was even a coach sighting, and a scoring coach sighting at that as Matt Dusenberry showed some footie tricks.
The Adams family found the net for a title win.
It was the safe New Year’s Eve place to be, the safe place to be for the holidays, aside from the power shots, headers and almost sliding tackles.
The championship games finished Tuesday evening.
Kickin’ Elves defeated Reigning Snowballs 4-0 for the Elementary Division Championship. Blake Plummer, Christian Ludeman, Brock McCormick and Oliver Mendoza scored one goal apiece for the winners.
Thunder Muffins defeated Avalanche 6-1 for the Middle School Championship. McKie Gregory, Eli Gregory and Bryson Mitchell scored two goals apiece and Jessie Mayer one for the Thunder Muffins. Cierra McCain scored the lone goal for the Avalanche.
Silver Santas defeated The Fellowship 6-5 for the Junior Division Championship. The game was tied 5-5 after regulation on Silver Santa goals by Corbin Mitchell (3) and Ryan Hoover (2) and The Fellowship goals by Rhys Coffee (2) and Nick Stewart (3). Jon Scudder scored in the extra period for Silver Santas with 50 seconds remaining.
The Wolfpack defeated J J Jingles 4-3 in the Senior Division Championship. Jackson Lehnhart and Nathan Foskat scored two goals apiece for the Wolfpack. Stuart Thurston, Adam Soto and Andy Lawson scored one goal apiece for J J Jingles.
Ring-A-Ding-Ding (RADD) defeated Santa’s Slayers 5-2 for the Classics Division Championship. Mike Goldstein scored two goals and Matt Dusenberry, Samantha Adams and Witt Adams one each for the RADD. Youlian Ninkov scored twice for Santa’s Slayers.
The ‘04s defeated the Orcas 6-3 to defend their Masters Division Championship. ‘04 goals were scored by Ryan Walters with two, and Matt Greely, Nathan Schorader, Kiel Urata and Cam Mitchell one each. Orcas goals came from Jamaal Bailey with two and Nathan Ord with one.
As with any holiday gathering, host Marty McKeown ended each award presentation with a warm and inviting, “See you next year.”