The Soldotna girls soccer squad will be playing on Saturday, but it won’t be for the state championship, as they were beaten by the Dimond Lynx 2-0 in the semifinal round at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium at Chugiak High School on Friday.
After a scoreless first half, it was the Lynx getting the better of the Stars with two goals in the second 40 minutes that left SoHi with a Saturday morning matchup with Colony to decide the third-place team at the tournament. Dimond will be playing Service in the state championship game at Chugiak.
Colony beat Soldotna 2-1 last Saturday in the Northern Lights Conference championship game in Kenai.
As for Friday, Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said he was proud of his defensive line that was able to hold back the talented Dimond offense.
“It could’ve been lopsided, with the runs they were making and the through balls they were getting,” Love said. “(Katelynn Kerkvliet) came out and played a fantastic game in the net, and our defense played exactly as we asked them to. We changed our lineup a bit, instead of playing up so high we knew they were going to get some through balls in, and it prevented a lot of that.
“We knew the downside of this was that our offense was going to be weaker, but we were willing to take that knowing that we had to take quick counters.”
The stat sheet shows that Dimond had 14 shots on goal over the course of the entire game, and SoHi only had two real chances, but after the whistle sounded for the end of the first half, it seemed an upset was in the works.
“I think if we would’ve made our transition to an offensive push, then maybe we would’ve gotten away with a goal there, but at that point it was still 0-0, so we didn’t want to do it yet,” Love said.
But, only 10 minutes into the second half, Dimond’s Ariela Lewis took advantage of a rare mistake from Kerkvliet by intercepting a goalie throw-in and sending the ball to the right side of the net.
“We didn’t get that lucky bounce and they did for that first one, and after that, I thought we might let up a bit, but they actually flipped the switch and we put good pressure on them,” Love said.
Dimond iced the game with just over six minutes remaining when Lauren Cole received a cross from Aaliyah Lewis and outworked SoHi’s defense for the goal.
“We just needed to settle down and stick to our normal game plan,” said Dimond coach Carolyn Savage. “Soldotna was playing a high defensive line and we just couldn’t figure out how to get past them in the first half.
Love, who is never one to ridicule a call from an official, said he thinks some of the calls on field were highly questionable.
“It seems like the two games we’ve played, (the officials) have interjected themselves into the game, which is unfortunate because these girls have worked hard all year long,” Love said.
Either way, the Stars are preparing to end their season with another chance against Colony.
“We have a lot riding on this, it’s a big game, but we’re not going to go overboard on it, they need to put today behind them,” Love said.