HOUSTON -- Sometimes victories can come during a loss.
Houston sophomore Paige Warner scored during the 73rd minute of a 5-1 loss to Nikiski Friday, marking the Hawks' first goal since the 2008 season.
"We were all pretty excited," Houston coach Wendy Dodge said.
Trailing 5-0 late in regulation, the Hawks sent a ball deep into their offensive third. Wagner was able to catch up and sent a hard strike into the lower right side of the net.
Not only did Houston go winless last year, but the Hawks were also held without a goal during the 2009 season.
Senior Hillary Bogard scored twice to help the Bulldogs improve to 2-0 this season. Freshman Logan Tuttle, sophomore Dyann Wick and junior Brittany Tuttle also scored for Nikiski.
Nikiski head coach Mandy Adair was pleased with the match, especially since the Bulldogs had spent almost no time on an outside field this spring.
"It's only the second day we were really playing on a full field outside," Adair said.
Logan Tuttle and Bogard scored during the first 10 minutes of play to give the Bulldogs the early lead. Bogard added to that advantage when she snuck inside the penalty box and got a clear look at the Houston net. Bogard fired the shot past the Houston keeper during the 17th minute to give the Bulldogs the 3-0 lead.
Four of Nikiski's five goals came in the first half.
"Overall, the defense and offense came together and we started to play as one unit," Adair said. "It's kind of cool to see the girls figure that out on their own and play in a big open space."
HOUSTON -- As the Houston Hawks entered the 2010 season, first-year head coach Colton Conner knew vowed not to fixate on this team's record.
With a young team that includes only 14 players, Conner's focus is to build a foundation for the program. He wants his team to play hard, be competitive.
With that in mind, Conner was pretty happy about his team's effort during a loss to Nikiski at Houston High School on Friday.
"I couldn't ask for the guys to play better," Conner said. "They really proved to themselves they can play a soccer game. I think they now know they can compete, which is good."
Nathan Stangel scored twice and Tyler Peek added a late goal for the Bulldogs during the victory.
Stangel came up the right side of the field and fired a shot into the far side of the net to give Nikiski the 1-0 lead during the 13th minute. Stangel pushed the Bulldogs' advantage to 2-0 in the 57th minute when he sent a hard strike from just outside the penalty box into the right side of the net.
"This was the best game that he's had since he's been playing soccer for me," Nikiski head coach Jim Coburn said of Stangel. "He's improved every practice, improved every year."
Peek knocked in a loose ball during the 65th minute to give the Bulldogs the 3-1 lead.
Josh Bowman put the Hawks on the scoreboard when he converted a penalty kick during the 71st minute. Bowman capitalized on an opportunity set up when teammate Travis Patterson was taken down inside the penalty box. Bowman and Patterson also played competitive club soccer outside of Houston High and are two of Houston's leaders.
"I was pretty confident with those two comp kids," Conner said. "It's like a fast-break layup. Those kids can put it in the net when given the opportunity."
Houston's best offensive chances may have come during the first 10 minutes of play. Houston had a handful of shots early, before Stangel was able to give Nikiski the lead with his first goal of the game.
"In the first 8 to 10 minutes of the game we had six or seven shots. Three of them had full potential to go in," Conner said.
Stangel shifted the momentum with his first goal, and the Bulldogs held on to it.
"We got a ton of shots," Coburn said. "Trying to finish is the hardest thing when you haven't been on the soccer field all season."
Houston goalkeeper Andy Goeke, playing in his first career match in the net, made numerous saves in the game.
"I can't say enough," Conner said. "The kid's a natural athlete. He naturally wants to make plays, naturally goes after the ball."
Goeke made a number of diving saves, snagged shots out of the air and put himself in front of point-blank chances.
"Without him being an athlete, that game could have been a little gross," Conner said. "He just sees the field. He knows where the ball's going and he's there."
Nikiski boys tie, Nikiski girls lose to Grace
On Saturday, the Nikiski boys tied Grace Christian 1-1 in Anchorage, while the Bulldogs girls lost to the Grizzlies 2-0.
The Nikiski boys took the lead in the first half on a goal by Stefan Krogseng, assisted by Tyler Peek. Grace knotted the game in the second half.
"We missed on some opportunities in front of the goal," Nikiski boys coach Jim Coburn said. "I felt like we dominated for the first half, but we're still trying to learn how to finish.
"Our play has definitely improved from the first game to the third, and that's good."
Contact Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.
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