The Kenai Central girls and boys soccer teams both notched shutout victories Tuesday in Northern Lights Conference Southern Division play at Skyview.
In the girls game, the Kardinals notched a 2-0 victory to improve to 5-2-1 overall and to complete division play at 4-1. Skyview dropped to 0-1-2 and 4-1-3.
In the boys game, Kenai triumphed 3-0 to move to 3-2 and 3-4-1. The Panthers fell to 1-8 and 0-3.
In the girls game, Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said his team had 34 shots. The Clarion counted 11 solid shots on net. Kenai took 10 corner kicks while Skyview didn't take any, and the Panthers took 20 goal kicks to Kenai's two.
But after scoring in the second minute, it took all the way until the 64th minute for the Kards to go up by two goals.
"We're getting the shots, and that's good, and we're keeping the ball on their end," Verkuilen said. "At regions we know we will only have a few chances, so we need to start capitalizing on more of our chances."
In the second minute, Jenna Calhoun passed to Ericka Reynolds, who one-timed the ball into the net with her left foot from 14 yards out.
"I was actually surprised it went in," Reynolds said. "I just one-touched it and it went perfectly through all of their players."
After that, the Kardinals were able to deliver balls into the box, but no players were able to control the balls and get off dangerous shots.
"It was frustrating for us," Reynolds said. "Hopefully by the time regions come, we'll start hitting it in."
Skyview coach David Carpenter said his defense stood tall, led by goalie Dallas Derflinger. Kenai was in position plenty of times to pounce on any rebounds, but the sure-handed Derflinger never gave the Kardinals a chance.
Carpenter said sweeper Chelsea Winter and stopper Sawyer Link kept the Kardinals from getting quality shots in the middle of the field.
He also said the midifielders, led by Makinna Halverson, did a great job of coming back to support the defense.
All that defensive support by the midfield hurt the Skyview attack, though, as the Panthers were not able to get enough players forward to consistently threaten a defense led by sweeper Vanessa Anderson, a former midfielder.
"I didn't like it at first, but I like it now," Anderson said of her new position.
Verkuilen said Anderson has the sweeper's timing — lurking back until she is sure she can get to the ball, then delivering a sure clearance once she gets there.
"She chewed us up," Carpenter said of Anderson. "She's got a great leg. We'd work hard and put together four-pass combinations, and the next thing you know, it'd come right back at us."
Kenai defender Heidi Perkins said having a sweeper like Anderson makes it easier to challenge for the ball.
"If we didn't get to the 50-50 ball, we'd always have somebody backing us up," Perkins said. "We worked really well backing each other up."
Kenai finally put some distance between itself and the Panthers in the 64th minute, when Calhoun crossed to Allie Ostrander. Allie collected the ball and deftly dropped it to Taylor Ostrander, who drilled it into the high right corner.
Taylor Ostrander said the goal showed the Kardinals are learning different ways to attack.
"I feel like it is part of the learning curve," she said. "When you are in a triangle, sometimes the pass back leads to a better angle."
Sydney Taylor had the no-drama shutout in goal.
"I thought is was a fast-paced game," Carpenter said. "That's one thing I was proud of. The girls didn't give up. They kept running up and down the field to the end."
Kenai boys 3, Skyview 0
The Kardinals triumphed in another game that showcased the catlike quickness of Skyview goalie Bailey Jones.
Jones made at least five saves that looked to be sure goals.
"Bailey is one of the best goalkeepers in the state, in my opinion," Skyview coach Brandon Goggia said. "After every game, people come up to him because of his play."
In the 13th minute, Jace Daniels had a breakaway and appeared to deliver a winning shot, but Jones made a scrambling save to his right.
In the 74th minute, Jones charged to the top of his box to make a do-or-die, sliding save on another Kenai breakaway.
But he saved his best for the final minutes of the game, when Kenai's Trevor Shirnberg was pushed over in the box.
Keegan Remsen took the penalty kick and was rebuffed, but the ball bounced right to a Kenai attacker. Jones scrambled to his feet to make that save, and when the ball rebounded off him to another Kenai attacker, he somehow managed to make a third glorious save in the space of five seconds.
The Kardinals did manage to beat Jones three times. In the 17th minute, TJ Wagoner played a corner kick into the box and it bounced around awhile, with Skyview missing a chance to clear. Steven Young controlled the ball and beat Jones with his off foot.
In the 24th minute, Wagoner made a run up the left side and found Daniels wide open on the far post for an easy finish.
Finally, in the 67th minute, Shirnberg got a ball from Alex Springer, beat a defender and drilled the ball into the side of the net.
"I was a good morale boost for our guys," Kenai coach John Morton said. "We've had some tough opponents and it was nice to put some balls in the back of the net."
Goggia said his team continues to improve. In particular, he liked the way Nathan Penrod and Aaron Hinz were creating chances up front.
"At first, we were getting chances but we weren't shooting," he said. "At the end of the game, we were shooting. It's only a matter of time before we start scoring goals."
Levi Hansen had the shutout for Kenai.
Nikiski girls 4, Seward 1
The Nikiski girls rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to topple the visiting Seahawks Tuesday afternoon.
“We came out a little flat, Seward was able to build up a decent attack,” Nikiski coach Mandy Adair said. “We adjusted, and came back to playing our game, which is more focused on possession, and brought Rachel Thompson out of goal to play center-mid.”
Morgan Tschida scored the Bulldogs’ first goal unassisted, and from there the barrage was on.
Minna Bogard tied the game with an assist from Tschida, and Bailey Buchholz broke the tie with an assist from Rachel Thompson. Cydney Spurgeon finished the scoring with a goal that she was able to convert from a corner kick.
Adair also praised Sarah Hall for her defensive effort, and said it was a big deal for the team to make the comeback that they did.
Nikiski now stands with a 4-5-2 overall record, 1-2-1 conference record, and will host Palmer Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Nikiski boys 5, Seward 0
Nikiski brought the heat in the second half in a victory over Seward Tuesday evening at Nikiski.
Michael Stangel and Christian Riddall each had two goals, and Jesse Eide scored the fifth. Doogun Seater, Colton Anderson, Logan Harrison and Josh Crouse each had an assist.
“We were having trouble finishing the first half, and Seward played really hard,” Nikiski coach Jim Coburn said. “The ball was in front of the goal several times, so we missed a few chances, but we got things together, and started finishing.
“It’s a younger team that’s getting better towards the end of the year.”
Nikiski now sports a 6-1-3 record, 2-2 in the conference, and will face up against Palmer at Nikiski, Wednesday at 6 p.m.