Juneau's Capital City Soccer League held the championship game of its women's league postseason tournament Friday night at Melvin Park, but several players said their minds were thousands of miles away after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. earlier in the week.
Pat's Douglas Inn, which won the regular-season championship, claimed a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Black Magic to win the postseason title.
But the game seemed secondary to the players, who used their halftime break to light candles in remembrance of the lives lost in the attacks. Several of the players wore red-white-and-blue bandanas while they played, and one player even had American flags painted onto each side of her face.
"With all the national events, it was hard to be out playing," said Lisa Eagan of Pat's, who scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second half.
Eagan said it was therapeutic to be playing, it was just hard to focus. Eagan said she'd started to regain her focus on the game after the halftime vigil, only to catch herself becoming distracted again a few minutes into the second half when a group of neighborhood girls walked by the field holding lighted candles and singing patriotic songs.
"This is the first game of soccer I've ever played where it was hard to focus and I didn't really want to play," Eagan said.
Liz McCoy of Black Magic organized the halftime vigil, bringing packets of candles for both teams and fans to light during the 7 p.m. break. Jeannie Drapeaux of Pat's was the player with flags painted on her face.
During the regular-season, Pat's and Black Magic split their two games as Pat's won the league title with a 14-1-0 record and Black Magic took second with a 12-1-1 mark. In the double-elimination postseason tournament, Pat's edged Black Magic 2-0 in the early rounds. That meant Pat's could win the title with a victory on Friday, while a Black Magic victory would force an if-necessary game on Sunday.
The game was a defensive struggle for the first half, with the only goal coming in the 20th minute as Black Magic's Ella Magallanes broke through the middle of the Pat's defense to score on an assist from Sarah Seagrave.
"We lost a lot of players to college, but we kept plugging away," Magallanes said, referring to forwards Caroline Detjen, Krystle Llanto, Kjersten Smith and midfielder Kristen Bressette who all left for school in recent weeks. Another college student on the team, Tracey Kelton, wasn't able to leave Juneau with the week's flight restrictions, so she played in the game.
"We lost it at the end," Magallanes said. "They scored, and it's like that sometimes when the other team scores."
Pat's used the mother-daughter combination of Kristi West and Sara Sanford to tie the score in the 18th minute of the second half. Sanford, the daughter, took a corner-kick and West knocked the ball into the net after it bounced off a couple of players' legs just in front of the goal.
"We've had numerous times where we've connected like that," West said. "It's like we have a sixth sense on corner kicks. It's definitely really weird."
"We're kind of a one-two punch," Sanford said.
Eagan gave Pat's the lead four minutes later when she scored on a long shot following a pass from Alison Cooney. Eagan said West's goal was what Pat's needed to break out of its doldrums.
"I think it was huge," Eagan said. "We needed to just play our game, and that gave us the confidence to settle down and do it."
Cooney added an insurance goal with five minutes left in the game as she took a pass from Sanford, then chipped the ball over the head of attacking Black Magic goalkeeper Andrea Carioti and ran past the goalkeeper to knock the ball into the net.
The Capital City Soccer League's men's tournament ended last Sunday, as Juneau Soccer Club A-Plus claimed a 3-2 overtime victory over the Alaska Marine Lines Truckers at Savikko Park in Douglas. Zach Essary scored the game-winning goal for JSC A-Plus.