The play was emblematic of the entire game: Kenai Central’s Zach Tuttle making really hard plays look easy.
With the clock winding down on the ASAA Division II boys soccer state championship, Tuttle simultaneously boxed out a defender and chested the ball to himself. With Juneau-Douglas High School goalkeeper Tad Watson tangled up with Ronan Davies behind him, Tuttle tapped the ball into an empty net.
The senior had a few other impressive plays up his sleeve, including a long throw in teammate Rykker Riddall headed into the goal, and the Kardinals defeated JDHS 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Service High School in Anchorage.
“I think it’s a big stage and one of the differences in the game was their best player (Tuttle) got it done against us,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said.
It’s the seventh time JDHS has finished as the runner-up in the state touranment. This is the first year the Crimson Bears played in the Division II, or small schools, classification.
Riddall’s goal in the 13th minute revved up the Kardinal, who attacked the ball as JDHS struggled to match Kenai’s intensity through the rest of the game.
“We just tried to step on the gas and accelerate through the finish and attack, attack, attack,” Kenai coach Joel Reemtsma said.
Junior Kanon Goetz came awfully close to giving JDHS a lead at the beginning of the game. Goetz headed the ball off the post on a free kick attempt from senior Ezra Geselle.
Tuttle set up the second goal of the game with about 12 minutes left in the first half. The senior drove 30 yards down the right side of the field before firing a shot across his body on Watson. The JDHS goalkeeper dove to his right and made the initial stop but the ball squirted out behind him and freshman Leif Lofquist kicked the ball in the net.
Geselle was distraught after the loss.
“I wanted it bad for everyone, it’s my third time here (at state),” he said. “I thought we had a chance this year, but it wasn’t enough.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.