The Soldotna High School boys soccer team played to a 2-2 draw at Wasilla Thursday to kick off its three-game swing through the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.
"It was a good, hard game," said Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers. "Our guys played well -- much better in the second half than we did in the first. It was good to get the lead back after losing it."
Siemers said his team started the game flat, and the Warriors took advantage with a goal in the second minute.
The Stars battled back, and Brennan Jackson pulled Soldotna even with a great individual effort to score just a minute before halftime.
"That got the team fired up right before half," Siemers said.
Garrett Gardner gave the Stars a 2-1 lead midway through the second half, knocking home a cross from Johnny Mills.
Wasilla was able to tie the match at two, though, capitalizing on a direct kick with 15 minutes left in the match.
Siemers also credited Dan Ghormley with a solid game at sweeper.
"He saved us a few times," Siemers said. "Overall, it was a good game to start off the road trip."
Soldotna, now 0-0-2, faces Palmer today and Colony Saturday.
Soldotna girls 1, Wasilla 0
The Stars put together a solid team effort for their first win of the season.
Megan Needs netted the only goal of the match, converting a cross from Stacey Foster midway through the second half.
Soldotna coach Katie Tongue said the Stars has a few more good chances, but still need to get used to playing on a full-sized, natural field.
"We had a few good chances, but a not a ton," Tongue said. "I think we were trying to put it in from too far out. We were playing on their football field, and it was pretty grassy -- quite a different surface than the gym floor. We need to make adjustments to that, and their goalie was cleaning up anything that wasn't too challenging. She wasn't going to let us get a garbage goal."
Marlana McCown recorded the shutout in goal for the Stars, though Tongue said she couldn't single any one player out as everyone on the field played well.
The Stars, now 1-0-1, will play Palmer today and Colony Saturday.
Kenai boys 2, Palmer 2
The Kardinals opened their season with a draw at Palmer.
"For the first time out, I thought the guys did very well," said Kenai coach David Landry.
Kenai got off to a fast start, scoring just a minute into the match. Harrison Deever netted the goal on a play set up by Joel Christianson and Micah Lillard.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Palmer equalized a minute later.
Kenai took a 2-1 lead nine minutes into the second half on a free kick played toward the goal by Ju Kim. Lillard got a touch on the ball in the Palmer 18-yard box, but it was Deever who was able to touch the ball home.
The Moose tied the game with a goal in the closing minutes of play on a shot that ricocheted off a Kenai defender.
Landry said Geoffrey Gemmell was able to hold things together for the Kardinals on defense, and goalkeeper Tyler Morris made several big saves to keep Kenai in the game.
Landry said Morris sustained an injury during the game and would be questionable for today's match at Colony and Saturday's match at Wasilla.
Landry also liked the play of midfielders Jose Araya and Corey Whiteley.
"We've got an awful lot of things to work on, but a two-all draw coming out of our first match, we'll take it," Landry said.
The Kenai girls lost to Palmer Thursday, but a score was not available as the Clarion went to press.
Colony boys 4, Nikiski 0
The Bulldogs suffered a setback at Colony.
Mike Benson scored two goals and assisted on another for the Knights.
The Bulldogs, 0-2-0, will play Houston today.
Colony girls 2, Nikiski 0
The Bulldogs were able to apply some pressure on the Colony goal, but Nikiski wasn't able to find the back of the net in a loss at Colony.
Nikiski put 16 shots on the Colony goal during the course of the game, but the Knights goalkeeper was able to make the stop on each of them.
Nikiski, 0-1-1, visits Houston today.
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