PALMER — It’s been one step forward and two steps back for the Palmer Moose this season.
But this weekend, Palmer head coach Harmony Chadwick finally felt like her team was able to take a step in the right direction.
Palmer started its 2013 season with some promise, opening against defending state champion South Anchorage. Even though the Moose suffered a loss to the Wolverines. Chadwick saw things the Moose could build on during a group of nonconference games before the start of their Northern Lights Conference schedule.
But then the snow fell, burying Palmer’s chance to improve during practice on its outdoor turf field. Since that snowfall, the Moose — much like every other team outside of Anchorage — has been playing catch-up.
“We played South, and we could see the things we wanted to work on, but we couldn’t get back out on the field,” Chadwick said. “But after (a 2-0 loss to) Wasilla, we were able to take the next practice and work on some stuff we had not had the chance to work on, on a full field, which I think was really good.”
Palmer parlayed that work into a 3-0 win over Seward on Friday, and a scoreless tie with a tough Kenai squad Saturday evening at Colony High.
“I’m happy,” Chadwick said after the tie Saturday. “We had some opportunities.”
Longtime Kenai head coach Dan Verkuilen said his team is also adjusting to playing on the outdoor field, and that contributes to the low-scoring games. Kenai suffered a 1-0 loss to Colony on Friday.
“This is kind of that early soccer. These are our first couple of days outside on the field this year,” Verkuilen said after the tie Saturday.
The Kenai head coach said he was pleased with his team’s play throughout the weekend. Kenai had a number of quality chances in both matches.
“We gave up a (penalty kick) against Colony, but we played a good game. I think Colony played a better first half. It looked like we had bus legs. Our first time out on the field, we were kind of getting used to that,” Verkuilen said of his team against the Knights.
Colony’s Peyton Johnstone converted a penalty kick during the 37th minute to account for the match’s lone score Friday.
“The second half (Friday) I think we picked it up a bit. It was a good game. Colony has a lot of aggressive, athletic players,” Verkuilen said.
Kenai had solid chances against Palmer on Saturday, including a multiple shots off the post or crossbar.
“The girls really created some chances. We’re just kind of getting them used to finishing, getting a foot on the ball,” Verkulien said.
Sophomore Heidi Perkins ripped a hard shot off a Palmer post in the second half. Perkins also lifted a high arcing shot that carried in the wind toward the right side of the Palmer net. Palmer goalkeeper Kat Godden was able to get a hand on the ball in the air, and knock it out of bounds.
While praising her keeper, Chadwick noted that play specifically.
“Kat did awesome,” Chadwick said. “She had some really good saves.”
Palmer scored its first win of the season on Friday, beating Seward 3-0.
Lily Cullers, Gerriann Krueger and Elliot Perkins scored for Palmer. Cullers gave the Moose a 1-0 lead in the first half. Krueger and Perkins scored during a five-minute span late in the second half.
Saturday, Colony blanked Seward 10-0. The Knights finished with 37 shots on the Seahawks net.