Athletes of the Week: 2006 Alaska Rush Soccer Club makes history
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The soccer cleat fit perfectly for the 2006 Alaska Rush girls soccer club, whose Cinderella run last month at the 2023 U.S. Youth Soccer Far West Regional Tournament in Boise, Idaho, ended with a championship.
The program became the first from the 49th state to win the prestigious tournament that features the best teams in the region from each age group after taking down Utah in the championship game 4-1.
“In 30-plus years it has never happened for Alaska teams that I’ve been aware of and I have been told it has never happened.” 2006 Alaska Rush coach Chris McKay said. “It is never, ever something that Alaska teams aspire to actually win the tournament. We hope to maybe make a good showing, hold a North Cal or South Cal team to a reasonable score line, but to actually go and compete and make it to the quarterfinals and then from there even dream of getting to where we got to the finals is something that has never been realized before.”
In the semifinals, Makenna Harris scored a hat trick including the game-winning goal in overtime to send an Alaskan program to the title game for the first time.
“In the finals, we were like, ‘Okay, we have made history, we didn’t come this far to get second place,’” Katelynn Seibert said.
”We just played like we had nothing to lose because we really didn’t,” Ali Adkins added.
Many of the members of the team had been playing together for years and knew their time remaining on the field together was ticking down.
“This is one of our last tournaments as a team together, so I think that since we know that we’re like, ‘we got to put it all out there,’ and we are just having fun mostly,” Lili Boshell said at practice.
And the program was feeling the support from Alaska and beyond.
“It was crazy, there were some people at the field that were from other teams that were watching us and everyone was so happy and so proud and it is just kind of unreal, it was a crazy feeling,” she added.
”It was amazing because all of the Alaska teams that were there, they came and watched and they were just so supportive. It is just such a great group,” Seibert said. “When we came back home there were people that I had never met that were like, ‘Hey, you’re from the Alaska Rush team?’ It was just great to have that support.”
While Alaska is typically represented at this tournament, past results, plus limited outdoor training and exposure often lead to these programs being overlooked by opponents.
”This was my fifth time at Regionals and the first time we were losing 12 and 13-0, then we started to win some, tie some, these girls are amazing, I am so proud.” Seibert said.
”It is actually really cool because everyone goes into the game thinking that it is just Alaska and we show them that we are better than that,” Adkins said. “I feel like you look at the name and you’re like, ‘This will be [an] easy breeze’, but we weren’t that easy breeze.”
Proving to other youth soccer programs in the area that what seems impossible, is possible.
”Alaska can make it and you can do it and just because you’re from a smaller state and don’t have that much competition doesn’t mean anything. I hope the younger generation can look up and see that and know that they can do it too,” Boshell said.
“I hope it shows, not only girls but boys soccer too, that you can compete,” Seibert said. “There has always been such a gap between Alaska and the Lower 48, but going down and competing shows that we are just as good.”
”I think it will really help the younger groups know that they can do it in the future,” Adkins said. ”I feel like we really just set up a pathway for their success.”
The 2006 Alaska Rush Girls Soccer Club represents the state and region at the 2023 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Orlando, Florida, July 17-23.
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