The Homer boys earned a hard-fought 1-0 overtime win over Grace Christian to advance to the final match in the Northern Lights Conference championship.
The Mariners had multiple opportunities to score during the entire match, including two goals that were negated due to the referee calling it offside, but were finally able to make it count in the 17th minute of overtime.
Lennart Von Schlichting managed to slip the ball past Grace goalkeeper Bryce Rodgers with a smooth cross assist from Konstantin Reutov.
“I told them they need to grow up and past the test,” Homer coach Warren Waldorf said. “The other players are trying to get underneath our skin, there’s some trash talking going on out there, my kids were buying into it, and I told them they need to grow up and get over it.”
Homer held the possession of the ball for the majority of the game, but could not get the shot off, as an early goal was erased due to Homer being called offsides. Another offsides call was called in the 53rd minute when Von Schlichting was taking a free kick.
“It’s what we’ve played all year,” Grace coach TJ Smith said. “All our games this year have been close matches, the worst loss we’ve had is 2-0, and the best win we’ve had is 4-0, so this backline is the strength of this team.
“Our goalkeep Bryce is, I think, one of the best in the state, and what’s got us here is what we’ve been trying to do.”
With the intensity of the game high, Waldorf said he told his players to settle down and focus on playing their game.
“I think in the second half, they did it real well, and they were getting better and better, and we kept pressing very hard, and finally we got one,” Waldorf said. “They didn’t give up, and they found a way. The last thing I told my two forwards was it’s time to finish.”
This win gives Homer a long-awaited trip to the conference championship match, which they will be playing Saturday at 4 p.m. against Wasilla, at Skyview.
“We’re in the conference championships for the first time in probably ever, and we’re going to state for the first time in probably ever, and they’re excited for it,” Waldorf said.
Wasilla boys 1, Colony 0
The Warriors scored with about 20 minutes left in the second half to earn a state beth and move into Saturday's 4 p.m. final against Homer.
Kyler Perry started the winning play when he got the ball at midfield and played it diagonally to Chance Morrison at the top of the box. Morrison did a good job taking the ball out of the air and controlling it before beating the Colony keeper for the winner.
"It was a really physical game," Wasilla coach Blake Livingston said after his squad earned its fourth straight trip to state. "Both teams played the full 80 minutes.
"We just happened to take advantage of one opportunity. It was an opportunistic goal."
Corey Hogan had the shutout in net for the Warriors. Livingston said Travis Patterson did a great job of anchoring the back line.
"It was back-and-forth the whole way," Livingston said.
Colony will face Grace in the third-place game at noon Saturday. The winner earns a berth to state.