Playing into the teeth of a loaded-with-cold wind, the Seward girls soccer team faced quite a competitive disadvantage in the first half Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to host Soldotna High School.
But the Seahawks girls had nothing on the plight of the Seward boys. Those Seahawks played two players down in the first half and three players down in the second half in a 3-0 loss to the Stars.
The Seward boys normally have 10 players, one short of the 11 that are allowed, per side, on the soccer pitch at one time.
However, one of Seward's players couldn't make it to the game due to a root canal. When Seward's Scott Hubbard pulled a groin and came out shortly into the second half, that left Soldotna with three more players on the field than Seward.
Seward coach Wayne Humbert said players are hard to come by now that baseball has started at Seward, a high school with just under 300 students. Seward also supports a track program in the spring.
"We're still doing a little bit of recruiting," Humbert said. "I couldn't ask for a better 10 guys than the 10 guys I've got playing, though."
Seward, with some nifty work from goalie Jamethon Luther, stuck right with Soldotna through most of the first half.
Soldotna finally broke through with 36 minutes gone in the first half, when Peter Kim assisted on a goal by Johnny Mills.
Four minutes later, Kim found Mills at the top of the penalty area. Mills then dished to a wide-open Brennan Jackson for a 2-0 lead.
Mills then finished up the scoring 19 minutes into the second half on a head ball.
With the win, Soldotna improved to 1-1 on the year. However, Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers said his team could have played better.
"When the other team has nine players, you automatically assume you'll have the advantage," Siemers said. "Sometimes, that's not a good thing."
Hunter Sirois and Mike Basilie combined on the shutout for Soldotna.
Humbert, whose team is now 1-2 overall, credited Jonah Swiderski with strong play in the midfield and Neil Logan with solid play on defense.
Soldotna girls 5, Seward 0
Jennifer Senette notched a pair of goals as the Stars improved to 1-1 on the year.
Soldotna coach Katie Tongue said the Stars struggled last year due to their difficulty in finding the back of net.
"Aside from (freshman goalie) Marlena (McCown), it's basically the same group of kids that we had last year," Tongue said. "Those kids had trouble scoring last year, so today felt good."
Tongue said that it's particularly nice to see Senette scoring. Senette started the scoring six minutes into the contest on an assist from Erin Wolfe.
Then, 11 minutes into the second half, Senette hooked in a strong shot from far outside the penalty area. The boomer came from a right leg taped due to a sore quadriceps.
"We used to always joke with (Senette) that the only goal she'd take is when she'd dribble it right into the goal," Tongue said. "She's starting to take shots from farther out."
The other goals from Soldotna came from Sam Penner on an assist by Megan Needs, Katey Jones on an assist by Stacey Foster and Foster on an assist by Annie Penner.
In addition to those who got in on the scoring, Tongue said Abby Kiffmeyer played solid at stopper and Ricki Jackson made a triumphant return at sweeper. Jackson missed the season-opening 4-2 loss to Grace Christian.
Meanwhile, Seward dropped to 1-2 with the loss. Coach Laura Beck said the strength of her team lies in forwards Kristin Beck, Emma Seigel, Elsa Gaule and Teal Hetrick.
However, those players couldn't get involved early because Seward had a hard time clearing the ball forward due to the wind. The Soldotna goalkeeper did not touch the ball once in the first half.
"It's snowing in Seward today, and we're not on our field yet, so it was nice to get over here and play on a field," Seward coach Beck said.
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