The Homer boys team finished off the 2012 ASAA state soccer tournament with an exclamation point Saturday at Dimond High School, beating Colony 4-0 to nab fourth-place honors at the tournament.
Homer played a superb match, pressuring the Knights consistently on both the offensive and defensive fronts. The result was the best finish for a Kenai Peninsula boys squad since the Soldotna boys finished fourth for a second-straight year in 2008.
“The lead official said this is the finest group of kids he’s ever worked with on the field, and all they want to do is play soccer,” Homer coach Warren Waldorf said. “I take that as a compliment and I’m extremely proud of them.
“We came up here intending to show well, and we did. I mean, we’re fourth place in the state, and this is the first time being here for us.”
Lennart Von Schlichting scored a hat trick for the Mariners, a feat his teammate Vegard Unhjem accomplished a day before against Wasilla.
Von Schlichting gave credit to the teamwork of his teammates.
“We just play very well together, and we know how we move,” Von Schlichting said. “We have every position in place where it should be, and we usually know where we’re going to run.”
Von Schlichting scored in just the second minute of the game, using his head to knock in a shot that caught the Knights off-guard early.
“Most of the time what happens is I get a good pass from my teammates so I can get a run, and that time I got the ball from Vegard and made it,” he said. “I’m happy to help my team to win the game, because that’s the most important thing.”
Lewis Koplin took a corner kick in the 11th minute that Von Schlichting was able to successfully convert to put Homer up two goals, and it was that score by halftime.
“We just made a couple of mistakes early, our goalkeeper made a mistake on the first goal they had, and then we didn’t mark up on a corner kick,” Colony coach Jeremy Johnson said. “But with a team that’s as offensively talented as Homer, it’s tough to get out of that hole.
“We felt the last 20 minutes of the first half we started giving them pressure, and had a couple opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, and then early in the second half made another mistake.”
Ethan Kizzia scored Homer’s third goal in the 45th minute with a powerful kick from the left side, and Von Schlichting completed his hat trick with an assist from Kyle Wisner in the 58th minute.
“They’re really talented, physically huge guys,” Johnson said. “I mean, every one of those kids I’m looking up at when I’m shaking hands after the game, so it’s hard to deal with their size and they’re a skilled team that is hard to deal with.”
Waldorf said the game they played against Dimond on Thursday is what sparked the Mariners to play at the competitive level they have been at the last two days. They lost to Dimond, the top-seeded team, 2-1.
“Playing Dimond was a great experience, because they’re the best in the state, and we did pretty well against them, and we found out we had a chance,” Von Schlichting said.
Waldorf said the team really made a statement this year, but will be looking much different next year, mentioning that many of the athletes will be working and commercial-fishing this summer, and many of the key players for Homer are either seniors or foreign-exchange students.
“It was an unusual year, and we were fortunate enough to have a couple of foreign-exchange students, and they blended well with the team, so there you have it,” Waldorf said. “It’ll be a different team next year, that’s for sure.”