WASILLA — When the Soldotna Stars capped the regular season with a match against chief rival Kenai Central, the Stars left the field with a tough 1-0 win over the Kardinals.
Saturday, as Soldotna entered another match with Kenai, this time in the conference title bout, the Stars knew things needed to go a little differently.
Sparked by an early score, Soldotna posted a 5-0 win over Kenai in the Northern Lights Conference girls championship game at Wasilla High School’s Veterans Memorial Field.
“It was huge,” Soldotna head coach Jimmy Love said of the early score. “That’s what we told them. I think if we get a couple of quick goals, I think it’s going to set the tone from that point. And we did. We got a couple of quick goals, possessed and just played kind of our style.”
Alyssa Wolfe scored twice, and Kylee Wolfe, Reagan Schoessler and Delaney Love also found the back of the net to help Soldotna to win its fourth NLC title in five years.
More than individual play, Love said, it was Soldotna’s ability to perform as a squad that allowed the Stars to have success.
“As the weekend progressed, we came together as a unit, as a team,” Love said. “Back to front, front to back, they all did their job.”
That unit allowed Soldotna to cruise through the three-day tournament, beating three opponents by a combined score of 16-0. SoHi opened with a 3-0 win over Palmer and bested Homer 8-0, before capping the weekend with the five-goal win over Kenai.
Alyssa Wolfe gave Soldotna its first lead during the fifth minute. Set up by a Kylee Wolfe corner kick from the left side, Alyssa Wolfe found a loose ball in front of the net, and knocked it in for a score.
During the 18th minute, Kylee Wolfe scored a highlight reel worthy goal to push Soldotna’s lead to a pair. Kelci Benson sent a cross from the right side. Kyle Wolfe came flying into the box, and one-timed the ball while still in the air, and sent a laser into the net.
Five minutes later, Kylee and Alyssa Wolfe combined for another goal to give Soldotna the 3-0 lead. Kylee Wolfe centered a pass from the left side, and Alyssa Wolfe chipped in the ball for her second goal of the game.
Late in the first half, Schoessler got the best of a scramble in front of the Kenai net, and proved Soldotna’s fourth goal of the half.
During the 69th minute, Delaney Love launched a ball from outside the right end of the box, and tucked it into the far corner, right underneath the crossbar.
Wasilla girls 5, Homer 2
WASILLA — Last season the Wasilla Warriors managed only a pair of wins. This year, Wasilla’s headed to the state tournament.
Freshman Ally Hull netted a hat trick and junior Alexa Starr scored a pair of goals to lead Wasilla to a 5-2 win over Homer in the third-place match of the Northern Lights Conference Championships at Wasilla High School Saturday morning.
With the win, Wasilla claimed the NLC’s final berth to the state tournament, which starts Thursday in Anchorage. The Warriors qualified for state for the first time since 2011, and found a way to erase their tough 2013 campaign in the process.
“It’s amazing,” Wasilla head coach Patrick O’Neill said of the program’s turnaround from 2013 to 2014. “That core group stuck with it. They took their lumps last year, but they came back.”
The Warriors program has been aided by an influx of young talent in each of the last two years. But O’Neill said attitude and embracing the team concept has been vital to the rebirth of the program.
“These girls have taken everything that (assistant coach Daisy Lofland) and I have asked them to do without a single complaint, without any argument whatsoever,” O’Neill said. “Now they’re seeing the fruits of their labor.”
O’Neill also praised his squad for rebounding from a tough 2-1 loss to Kenai in the semifinals.
“It’s tough to ask the group to come back at 10 in the morning after such a disappointing loss,” O’Neill said. “We talked to them before the game. There are only a couple of teams that get to finish regions with a win. We might as well be one of them.”
Hull struck first for Wasilla, knocking a ball in the net from about 18 yards out to give the Warriors the early 1-0 lead. After Homer tied the score at 1 with a penalty kick, Hull struck again.
The freshman powered her way through a double-team in the box, and as she was nearly knocked to the turf, Hull chipped a ball past the Homer goalkeeper to give Wasilla the 2-1 lead.
Late in the first half, Starr ripped a shot with her left foot from about 25 yards out, and tucked it underneath the crossbar to push Wasilla’s lead to 3-1.
Starr and Hull each added goals in the second half.
Wasilla boys 2, Colony 1
The Warriors knocked off the Knights for the conference title.
Homer boys 3, Kenai 0
The Mariners defeated the Kardinals in the third-place game to earn their first trip to the state tournament since 2012, when Homer finished fourth.