The Soldotna girls soccer team remained undefeated by defeating Nikiski, while the boys played to a tie Monday in Northern Lights Conference Southern Division action at Nikiski.
The SoHi girls won 7-0, while the Bulldogs and Stars finished at 1-1 in the boys game.
In the boys game, the tie left both squads talking of what could have been.
“We did everything but put the ball in net,” Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers said after moving to 4-3-2 overall and 1-1-1 in the Southern Division. “We hit the post and were pressuring at the end of both halves.
“But at the end of the day, the final score is what matters.”
Echoed Jim Coburn, whose team also is 1-1-1 in the south: “We had a couple of good shots on goal that we weren’t able to finish up front. That has been an issue all year, but it’s definitely getting better.”
Both coaches competed in four games the previous week, leaving precious little time for practicing finishing goals.
That much competition also can leave a team drained, and both teams got off to a slow start with passes often missing the mark.
Nikiski’s Jesse Eide livened things up in the 25th minute.
SoHi goalie Daniel McElroy punted the ball from the top of the box, but it rolled right to Eide. Eide immediately lofted the ball back over McElroy. Battling the sun and win, the keeper couldn’t keep it from going into the net.
“The guy put it up in the sun and wind,” Siemers said. “That’s not the first time it’s happened.”
Coburn credited Eide for heads-up play.
“We talked about that some goalies in the past few games have been standing out of the goal,” Coburn said. “If you see he’s not in and you’re in a position to have a shot, have a shot.”
Going down 1-0 put a jolt into the Stars, and they spent most of the rest of the first half attacking.
In the 31st minute, Tyler Fenton crossed to Jeremy Godfrey, and Nikiski goalie Sullivan Jackson did well to get in front of the blast.
Just before half, Charalambos Asimakopoulos let loose a screamer toward the net, but Jackson got a hand on the ball and sent it bounding off the crossbar.
“Our keeper did a great job,” Coburn said. “It was the best game he’s played all year.”
SoHi started the second half keeping most of the possession of the ball. Nikiski turned the tables and made a few forays into the Soldotna box, but the momentum would change quickly.
In the 57th minute, SoHi’s Dylan Kuntz pushed the ball up the side to Fenton, who slipped through a couple defenders and buried the equalizer in the corner.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Siemers said. “It was good to get the equalizer off of a great individual effort.”
SoHi would continue to press at Nikiski’s end. The Bulldogs took 11 goal kicks in the second half, while Soldotna took three. SoHi had four corners to Nikiski’s none.
But the Bulldogs would not break. Coburn gave particular credit to Eide, Garrett Feller and Javon Pamplin.
Jackson hung in there, as well, tipping a nasty bender by Ricky Nelson over the bar with just nine minutes to play.
Siemers said Fenton, Kuntz and Nelson all did a good job pressing the attack.
“It will be nice to have a practice tomorrow to get organized,” said Siemers, adding his team hadn’t practiced since May 5.
The Stars host Skyview on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Nikiski has no such luxury of practice. The Bulldogs host another crucial Southern Division game with Kenai Central today at 3:45 p.m.
Soldotna girls 7, Nikiski 0
The Stars notched five goals in the first half in moving to 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the Southern Division. Nikiski fell to 0-6-2 and 0-1-2 in the south.
Soldotna coach Jimmy Love was really happy with the way his team came out and played. He felt the team did not come out as strong Saturday against Seward.
“We didn’t come out with fire (Saturday), but today we came out and played like we should have been playing all game,” Love said. “We were fighting for 50-50 balls and passing far better than we were in the Seward game.”
Kylee Wolfe led the way for the Stars with four goals. She started the scoring in the 14th minute on an assist from Alex Ashe.
Just four minutes later, Brianna Bennett scored on assists from Julie Litchfield and Olivia Conradi.
In the 22nd minute, Wolfe struck again with help from Skylar Shaw.
After Delaney Love scored on a helper from Elizabeth Cho in the 28th minute, Wolfe completed a first-half hat trick in the 35th minute on an assist from Makenna Rosin.
Rosin, on assists from Wolfe and Sara Federle, scored six minutes into the second half, while Wolfe, on an assist from Rosin, scored seven minutes into the second half.
Love pulled most of his starters at that point.
“Both lineups that played moved the ball really well,” he said.
Katelynn Kerkvliet and Julie Litchfield shared the shutout in goal.
Love said Rachel Thompson was strong in net for the Bulldogs.
“She made some good saves, but a lot of shots were more at her than away from her,” Love said. “She’s a good keeper and we made her look even better.
“She did have some saves where coach and I were like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe she got a hand on that.’”
Nikiski coach Mandy Adair said Thompson had 29 saves.
“She was under pretty constant pressure,” Adair said. “I think she did a great job. She was always trying to make the next big play. She never let one goal get her down.”
Adair said the Stars were very organized due to playing a lot together for a long time.
“That’s something we usually get around regions,” Adair said. “Our takes longer. Theirs walks in the door from day one.”
The coach said Destiny Owens, at midfield, and Evie Cox, at stopper, played well and both are starting to gain confidence.
The Nikiski girls host Kenai at 5:30 p.m. today, while the Stars host Skyview on Thursday at 3 p.m.
Adair is looking forward to the return of senior Katie Costello, who has been participating in the school play.
“The energy and passion she brings to the game will be a big boost for the girls,” Adair said.