The Skyview girls and boys soccer teams got the perfect start to what will be a pivotal week in their seasons.
The host Panthers girls defeated Seward 4-1 while the Skyview boys notched a 5-1 victory.
The Skyview girls moved to 1-7 overall and 1-1 in the Northern Lights Conference Southern Division, while the Panthers boys moved to 2-6 and 1-1.
Only the top four teams out of the six-team Northern Division qualify for the conference tournament. That leaves the Seward girls (0-4-1, 0-3-1 in Southern Division) and the Seward boys (0-6, 0-4) in a tough spot.
The fate of Skyview’s final soccer season will be determined in three days at the end of the week. The Panthers girls and boys host Soldotna at 4 and 6 p.m. Thursday, host Nikiski at 4 and 6 p.m. Friday and travel to Homer for 2 and 4 p.m. tilts Saturday.
Tuesday provided the crucial dose of confidence heading into that slate.
“This helps people know what they can do in other games, not just today,” junior Ciarra Mahan said after tallying a goal and an assist for Skyview.
Mahan started the scoring for the Panthers in the 11th minute when she got a ball up the side from Taylor Wilson and turned it into a goal.
Fifteen minutes later, Mahan found Wilson in the middle for a 2-0 lead.
“Me and her were like the core together in the center,” Wilson said.
Seward coach Kelly Smith said the middle was vulnerable at times due to shifting roles on the team.
“We’ve had some injuries this season and we have players playing in some positions they’re not used to playing,” Smith said. “But they are improving and playing a lot better.”
Just two minutes into the second half, the Seahawks had a chance to get right back in the game but Skyview goalie Mandee Lawson turned aside a penalty kick from Cambria Robinson.
Then six minutes into the half, Skyview’s Carissa Lingle nudged the ball ahead to Lilly Denison for a goal. The play happened just a minute after Denison had a goal nullified due to offsides.
In the 67th minute, Wilson notched her second goal of the game when she carried the ball nearly half of the field and scored for a 4-0 lead.
“It feels pretty good,” Wilson said when asked how it felt to get the first victory of the year. “The team is stoked. Look at them.”
The Seahawks got on the board in the 80th minute, when Ashley Whiteshield played a corner kick to Robinson. Robinson touched the ball into a scrum of players in front of the net, and Carrie Anderson touched it in.
“I’m upset with the outcome, but I think as a whole Seward put forth its best effort,” Smith said, adding that Whiteshield had a solid game. “We just didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Skyview boys 5, Seward 1
The Panthers overcame an early deficit to notch the win.
In the sixth minute, Seward started the scoring when Rhett Sieverts scored on a cross from Alex Estees.
But with a roster of 12, eight being freshmen and sophomores, the Seahawks could not hold the lead.
“We started well but with a lack of numbers we ran out of gas a bit,” Seward coach Dustin Phillips said.
In the 21st minute, the Panthers tied the game when Seth Hutchison found Taylor Macrae with a cross.
Just seven minutes later, Skyview made sure it would take a 2-1 lead into half when Mauro Lotito scored when Chad Harley found a soft spot in the middle of the defense with his cross.
“We’ve been playing all Northern Division teams so we’ve been playing a lot of defense,” Skyview coach Jake Eveland said. “It was nice to get a chance to work on the offensive side of things.”
Phillips said many of his young players are positioned in the middle, something that should pay dividends in the future.
“Last year, we didn’t even have a boys squad,” Phillips said. “We are rebuilding and it’s good we have some young players to build around.”
Phillips said his player of the game was sophomore midfielder Ronny Jackson.
The Panthers added three more goals in the second half. Sterling Stasak tucked a ball in the corner from a tough angle off an assist from Bailey Blumentritt, Macrae scored off an assist from Lotito, and Lotito scored off an assist from Macrae.
Lotito, an exchange student from Chile, had two goals and an assist, finding form after a recent injury.
“He’s very good at seeing other people and calming everybody down,” Eveland said.
Macrae also had two goals and an assist.
“He’s the nicest kid in the world and he always works hard,” Eveland said.
Eveland said Seward had some good players, so his team could not afford to relax.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” he said. “They kept focused and moved the ball well.”
Kenai girls 5, Nikiski 0
The Kardinals earned an always-important Northern Lights Conference win Tuesday in Nikiski, improving their season record to 3-0 in the Southern Division (6-2 overall).
Kenai coach Dan Verkulien said his squad put the pressure on the Bulldogs early, taking 13 shots in the first half on Nikiski goaltender Rachel Thompson.
“I’m happy with the way the girls moved the ball,” Verkuilen said.
Kenai scored its opening goal in the 25th minute on a header by Lara Creighton that began with a corner kick from Heidi Perkins. Two minutes later, Allie Ostrander took matters into her own hands by dribbling through a couple Nikiski defenders and scoring unassisted, and Hannah Drury added a goal in the 31st minute with help from Taylor Sheldon and Mikaela Pitch, resulting in a 3-0 lead for the Kards at halftime.
Willow Napolitano scored in the 57th minute on an assist from Hannah Drury, and Pitch wrapped things up with a goal in the 64th minute, getting an assist from Abi Tuttle.
Alli Steinbeck got the shutout in goal for Kenai.
Verkuilen said the seeding will likely pair Kenai with either Palmer or Colony from the Northern Division.
“The seeding should be good, if we can do our job the rest of way,” he said. “Those teams always look tough the second time around.”
Nikiski fell to 0-7-2 and 0-2-2 in the south, and will face Skyview on the road Friday. Kenai will host Homer on Thursday.
Kenai boys 3, Nikiski 2
After trailing 3-0 at halftime, the Bulldogs attempted a rally but fell short at home.
TJ Wagoner notched a hat trick — all goals coming in the first half — and Kenai bumped its record up to 5-2-1.
Kenai coach John Morton said he started subbing in JV players in the second half.
“We were dominating possession, and I think we kind of got a little complacent,” Morton said. “I think those things had a mental impact.”
Michael Stangel scored both Nikiski goals in the second half, including one on a penalty kick. Nikiski dropped to 1-2-1 in the Northern Lights Conference (4-5-1 overall).