The Kenai girls lost to West Valley 3-1 in overtime on the first day of the ASAA state soccer championships at Dimond High School in Anchorage on Thursday.
The loss means Kenai is relegated to the consolation bracket, and the Kards will play Grace Christian at 3 p.m. on Friday at Chugiak. If they win that game, they will move on to the fourth-place match on Saturday. Kenai has defeated Grace twice this season.
The sixth-seeded Kards were able to score first, netting a goal in the fifth minute by Jenna Calhoun, who was able to make her way past West Valley goalkeeper Jasmine Bourne and knock the ball in. She had the assist from Allie Ostrander.
“The game really came down to a couple of mistakes, and making mistakes that aren’t normal for our team,” Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said. “It was a little disorienting, just a couple misplays and misreads that made the difference in the game, but our approach was the same, even with a wet ball and turf field that we aren’t used to.”
Almost the entire game was played in the rain, and the combination of a wet ball and turf field led to missed opportunities for both sides.
“It’s just hit and miss, and you get the ball skipping, miscues and the timing of the ball coming off a harder and flatter ground, and it’s faster, but we did have our chances with a few breakaways so it’s all right,” Verkuilen said.
With a 1-0 lead in the first half, Kenai was caught off guard in the 29th minute, when Madison Ackiss from West Valley managed to sneak the ball past Sydney Taylor of Kenai and score to tie the game up.
After both teams had near misses early in the second half, the game ended in a tie, which led to overtime.
“We told them to continue playing the way they were, and after the first 10 minutes of the match, we were controlling up front and moving the ball the way we wanted them to,” West Valley assistant coach Bill McKenzie said. “We wanted the defense to tighten up and the midfield to be a little more aggressive, but that was pretty much what I told them.”
West Valley scored six minutes into the first 10-minute overtime period on a long shot from Kelly Hoffman to break the tie, and the Wolfpack sealed the win with another long shot from Jilian Phillips in the 18th minute of overtime.
West Valley managed 10 corner kicks in the game, compared to four for the Kards, and Kenai goalkeeper Sydney Taylor had seven saves.
“She did a great job,” Verkuilen said. “I’m sure if you ask every player out there if they made two mistakes, they would say yes, even if it doesn’t look like it, but the goalie out there is obvious because she makes the saves.”
Kenai’s game against Grace on Friday is a rematch of the Northern Lights conference semifinal last week.
“Tomorrow we’re going to come play hard again, and I hope they don’t hold their heads down too much,” Verkuilen said.