The visiting Soldotna girls soccer team opened its season with a 5-1 victory Friday over defending Northern Lights Conference champion Colony.
The Stars have won three of the last four conference championships, with the one blemish coming to the Knights in the conference title game last season.
SoHi did come back to defeat the Knights 3-2 for third place at state.
“Whether it’s against Colony or anything, to start the season off with a win against a northern opponent is nice,” Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said. “I suppose there’s a little bit of the revenge factor, but we got revenge on them at state.
“This starts the whole cycle over again.”
Kylee Wolfe started the season with three goals and an assist. Just 13 minutes into the season, Wolfe had two goals, one assisted by Taryn McCubbins and the other by Alyssa Wolfe.
After Colony cut the gap to 2-1, Julie Litchfield struck on an assist from Kelci Benson in the 28th minute.
Just two minutes later, Wolfe finished her hat trick with an unassisted goal. She then assisted on an Olivia Conradi goal in the 34th minute.
Love said he did a lot of subbing in the second half to give his reserves experience and give his starters rest. He said his squad still got a lot of chances, but couldn’t finish them.
“For the first game, I think the girls played really well,” Love said. “They possessed and passed and played the game we think they are very capable of playing.”
Colony boys 3, Soldotna 0
The host Knights were able to notch an NLC win Friday despite a solid outing from SoHi goalkeeper Kayne North.
In SoHi’s first game of the season, the Stars saw their keeper peppered with 20 shots.
During the 26th minute, Colony appeared to be on the verge of taking a lead. Colony sophomore Cameron Shaw found himself deep in the box with the ball. Shaw put a shot on goal. But North dove to the turf. Fixed to the left post, North made the save and wrapped up the loose ball to prevent a rebound.
Five minutes later, Kyle Bolam fed Ben Atkinson a ball from the midfield. In the left side of the box, Atkinson sent a laser on net, but North swallowed the opportunity.
Colony senior Chris Olsen did manage to find an answer for Colony, notching the hat trick in the 3-0 win over the Stars.
“He just found himself in good positions, and his teammates found him,” Colony coach Jeremy Johnson said. “He created space for himself, and give his teammates credit for finding him.”
In the 36th minute, Olsen took a feed from the midfield. Running alongside a defender, Olsen managed to beat the defense, and place a shot in the upper shelf of the Soldotna net to give Colony the 1-0 lead.
Olsen scored twice during the second half.
In the 45th minute, Bolam worked the ball up the right side, and sent a pass across to the far post. Olsen crashed and tipped in the attempt.
Thirteen minutes later, after a battle for the ball inside the box, the ball took a bad bounce over the head of North. Olsen was left all alone for the easy goal.
“Right place, right time. Sometimes you just have to walk it into the net,” Johnson said.
Sean Haley recorded the shutout in goal.
Kenai girls 4, Palmer 0
The visiting Kardinals heated up on offense in the second half to notch an NLC win in their first game of the season.
Kenai had 11 shots on goal in the first half.
“You could see the first-game jitters,” Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said. “We had good opportunities and good ball movement and some point-blank chances.”
Cori Holmes got the Kards going with goals in the 54th and 58th minutes, on through balls from Heidi Perkins and Allie Ostrander.
“She got us started,” Verkuilen said of Holmes. “We were kind of feeling like there was a wall across the goal in the first half.”
In the 59th minute, Heidi Perkins struck from 30 yards out, while a quick left foot earned Abi Tuttle an unassisted goal in the 65th minute.
Alli Steinbeck had the shutout for Kenai. Verkuilen said Perkins was solid on defense, and also started the offense. Ostrander and Hannah Drury distributed in the midfield, while Holmes and Lara Creighton saw the most time up front.
“I’m really pleased with how it came out,” Verkuilen said. “They showed good fight.”
Kenai boys 1, Palmer 0
A penalty kick by TJ Wagoner was enough to lift the visiting Kardinals over the Moose on Friday in NLC action.
Late in the first half, Wagoner was taken down in the box and converted the resulting penalty kick to give the Kards’ a win in their first game.
That was good enough for goalie Wren Norwood and the Kenai defense. Kenai coach John Morton said defender Nate Narlock was solid and had one particular 40-yard sprint back to thwart a scoring opportunity.
Morton said Kenai had more opportunities on goal, but there were definitely times when Palmer but together some nice attacks, as well.
“When we were playing well, we were playing as a team with quick passes, playing to space and moving off the ball,” Morton said. “We didn’t stay consistent. That’s what we have to work on.”
Nikiski girls 1, Seward 1
The visiting Bulldogs got a goal from Hannah Love with five minutes left to earn a tie in the NLC Southern Division contest.
The Seahawks took a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half on a nice shot from 30 yards out.
“It seemed like our girls never really got down,” Nikiski coach Mandy Adair said. “They kept playing hard. They knew we would be able to get something back.”
With five minutes left, Molly Cason sent a through ball to Nataliyah Davis, who was fouled at the top of the box to set up the free kick.
“I told her to make sure she put it on frame and we were going to have everyone crash,” Adair said. “The momentum had switched and we were putting on a lot of pressure.
“I feel like if we had five minutes, we might have snuck another goal in there.”
Adair said her squad was missing a few key players and had just 14 dressed, and gave credit to Laura Hufford for a solid game on defense.
Nikiski boys 9, Seward 0
The visiting Bulldogs notched a big victory Friday in their first NLC Southern Division game of the year.
Nikiski is now 2-0 overall and in the NLC. Seward falls to 0-1, but the good news for the Seahawks is they have played a rare home game in April. In fact, Nikiski coach Jim Coburn said he was informed Seward has had use of the field for two weeks.
Nico Castro led the Bulldogs with three goals, while Dylan Jackson added a pair of strikes. Also scoring for Nikiski were Jesse Eide, Nathan Carstens, Hunter Holloway and Michael Stangel.
Sullivan Jackson had the shutout for Nikiski.
“Our defense played well,” Coburn said. “We were able to get a lot of young guys in the game. For the second game of the year, it was good.”
Wasilla girls 2, Homer 1
The visiting Warriors scored the game-winner midway through the second half to top the Mariners in Northern Lights Conference action Friday.
Wasilla improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the NLC with the win, while Homer was playing its first game of the season.
“I would say we played fairly well for our first game,” Homer coach Mickey Todd said. “We could have done a few things we’ve been working on in practice better, but game pace is a lot different from practice pace.”
Todd said his seniors made a big difference in the game. Senior Maggie Koplin scored 49 seconds into the second half for a 1-1 game.
Todd also said it is nice having senior Rachel Doan back in net. Doan started as a freshman and sophomore before missing last year with an injury.
“She makes a huge difference for us,” Todd said.
The coach also credited senior offensive midfielder Mady Gerard and senior fullback Hannah Baird with solid games.
Homer boys 3, Wasilla 1
The host Mariners received two goals from Kenneth Schneider in opening their season with a Northern Lights Conference victory over the Warriors on Friday.
Wasilla dropped to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Schneider started the scoring in the 43rd minute on an assist from Quinn Daugharty. Just four minutes later, Max Mangue found the back of the net, again with help from Daugharty.
Schneider then made it 3-0 on an assist from Jake Worsfold.
Wasilla had its goal with three minutes to play.
The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman contributed to this report.