SoHi boys edged by Wasilla in thriller

The consolation game between the Soldotna and Wasilla boys was so close on Friday, that not even 30 minutes of overtime could decide the winner.


For the Stars, not even a majestic header from senior Cory Carver with only minutes left in regulation could save them.

Ultimately, the game was decided by penalty kicks — five each — and it was Wasilla leaving Eagle River High with a 3-2 victory, which advanced them to the state tournament fourth-place game on Saturday. For Soldotna, the season is over.

"When you're up 2-1, and go to extra time and lose in PK's, it's rough," said Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers. "We definitely wanted to play on Saturday, that was a goal of ours, to win a game, but it's really hard to lose it on PKs."

SoHi held a season record of 6-6-1 after last week's Northern Lights Conference tournament, but will end their season with two losses at the state tournement.

They can't say they didn't go out with a bang, however.

After a scoreless first half, it was Wasilla putting up the first goal only three minutes into the second half when Cash McGregor converted on a free kick.

SoHi charged back and tied it up on a goal from Cameron Grothe in the 52nd minute. Carver brought the ball towards the right corner of the Wasilla net, and was able to find Grothe with space in front of the net for the goal, which ended with multiple fist pumps from Grothe as he was mobbed by teammates.

After more than 20 minutes of fierce back-and-forth play, Soldotna found itself with a corner kick opportunity with only four minutes left in regulation. Jonas Perletti took the kick and Carver was the first to the ball as he headed in the goal that gave the Stars the lead.

"They didn't mark me up very well and the ball came in and I decided that I wanted to go as hard as I can because this could be the last game and I tried to drill it in," Carver said after the game.

Siemers said both goals were executed to near-perfection.

"They were both beautiful goals, and we had good possession and passing, and we put them away." Siemers said. "I was really proud of the guys the way they came together and were able to connect on those plays."

SoHi was literally moments away from getting the win when Wasilla's Josiah Williams converted on a throw-in from teammate Kyler Perry by heading the ball past SoHi goalie Kayne North in the second minute of stoppage time.

"We literally pushed everybody up and threw it in the box and it worked out for us," said Wasilla coach Blake Livingston. "I was still optimistic that anything could happen, and being that late in the game, I would say it was our last chance."

That led to a 2-2 tie and extra time for both teams.

Two 10-minute overtime periods led to nothing, followed by two five-minute sudden death overtime periods, which again led to nothing. Penalty kicks would be the decider.

"You talk to them and just try to find the ones who are ready to do it, and try to find the confidence level and who has the warm legs for it," Siemers said. "We had the bad whistle blow on one of them, and that was brutal, but other than that, it's PKs and someone's got to win it."

For the penalty kicks, Carver went first for Soldotna and scored, followed by a goal from Wasilla.

Grothe scored on his attempt, but it was nullified by Wasilla's second goal.

Hunter Koch scored on his penalty kick attempt, but it was once again equalized by Wasilla.

It was on SoHi's fourth kick that things went wrong. Although Keely Abendroth scored, he took the kick before the official blew his whistle to start. On his second, official, attempt, Abendroth's kick was blocked.
Wasilla scored on their fourth kick, and when Jonas Perletti's attempt sailed over the crossbar, the sea of red Warriors rushed forward in celebration.

"It seems like every time we play Soldotna, it's always a battle, and today was no different," Livingston said. "We just stressed that we need to keep our composure and take the corner and make sure it's on frame."

Carver mentioned that even though his team was eliminated on Friday, he was proud to have made it to the state tournament, the first time in his high school career he's been a part of a state-bound team.

"We haven't been to state in four years, so obviously it's a reward to be here," he said. "Most years we want to be up here. For me, between soccer and basketball, it's seven times that I haven't been to state, so this was a first."


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