The Soldotna girls cleared their first hurdle at the ASAA state soccer tournament Thursday with a 3-0 win over Grace Christian at Chugiak High School.
The sister tandem of Miranda and Kylee Wolfe had a lot to do with it, as Miranda scored two goals and Kylee had two assists.
But for now, the Stars are simply breathing a sigh of relief, even as they now advance to the semifinal round against Dimond, set for 4 p.m. at Chugiak. The Lynx beat South 3-1 in overtime on Thursday.
“I’m relieved, the first game is over, and since Grace is an opponent we’ve played twice before, it’s always about where are we going to come in at,” SoHi coach Jimmy Love said. “I’m pleased with the outcome, I’m just not sure if I’m pleased with how we got there.”
After an even first half that went scoreless, the Stars began to apply an increasing amount of pressure to Grace goalkeeper Katelyn Houston.
Houston was forced to leave for five minutes early in the game when a SoHi player collided with her near the goal, and a substitute goalkeeper was put in, but the Stars weren’t able to take advantage.
The multiple opportunities SoHi had finally resulted in a goal in the 47th minute when Kylee Wolfe, a junior, sent the ball on a cross from the left corner to Miranda, a sophomore, who easily slipped it in at point-blank range.
“I got the pass from my sister, and it barely went in but I was there,” Miranda said.
It wasn’t until 14 minutes later that the younger Wolfe found the ball on a breakaway down the field and waited until the opportune moment to score again.
“On the second goal, I got the ball through and worked hard and ran through it, and took my time and took the shot and it went in,” she said.
SoHi cinched up the game with seven minutes left when junior Kelci Benson was able to convert a free kick into a goal of her own.
“I think our forwards did a lot better today, we did change up a little on how we were processing out attack,” Love said. “I think our runs that our forwards were making is what we’ve been talking about all year, instead of running straight up they were making diagonal runs, and they were able to come onto the end of that ball over the top, which is how we scored on two of those goals.”
Even when they were up three goals late in the game, SoHi received a bit of a scare when goalie Katelynn Kerkvliet had to be taken out after colliding with a Grace player. In place of Kerkvliet, Love put the younger Wolfe in, who only had to face about 30 seconds of time in the net.
“I was really nervous, but I was ready to do it for the team,” Miranda said. “I would do anything for them, so I was up for it.”
Love said that while he’s happy to get past the first game, he will be calling on his team to step up the pressure for a full 80 minutes in game two, which they will need to do against a powerhouse team like Dimond.
“I think there were times throughout the game where we were a little lackadaisical, and we were waiting for the ball to come to us,” Love said. “As far as finishing, I thought we were better. There were a few shots that didn’t quite hit the frame, but that makes me feel better.
“We can’t just play half a game. From here on out, we have to play a full game. That’s no disrespect to Grace, but you’re not going to be given that luxury from now on. We have to play two full halves.”