The Skyview High School boys soccer team picked up its first win of the season Tuesday, defeating Nikiski 2-0 in a Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division match at Nikiski.
The Nikiski girls also picked up a victory, edging the visiting Panthers 3-1 on the strength of two goals from Clare Bennett.
"That's the most fun we've had in a while," said Skyview defender Jake Bauer after helping his side to a victory. "I think we passed the ball real well. We could've finished a little better, but we connected on our passes."
Indeed, the Panthers watched some of their prettiest scoring opportunities go wide of the net, but Skyview did take control of the match with a pair of goals in the first half.
Gabe Fellman put the Panthers on the scoreboard in the opening minutes of the match, knocking the ball home out of a crowd in front of the Nikiski goal.
The Panthers scored their second goal late in the half, converting on a corner kick opportunity. Buck Kunz took the corner and served the ball into the six-yard box, where Jason Smith was able to get a head on it and flick it across the mouth of the goal. Kyle Eshleman, all alone at the far post, finished off the play.
The Bulldogs were able to create some scoring chances by stretching the field late in the first half and early in the second, but Skyview goalkeeper Matt Stalnik was able to keep a clean sheet.
"We've been preparing for a while to go against those guys," said Nikiski midfielder Travis McGahan. "They got some good shots on us, and their goalie did really well he made some saves I didn't think he would.
"We need to work on finishing. Once we get that, we'll be a whole different team. We just didn't get it done today."
Skyview coach Dave Carpenter was pleased to see Fellman play well at forward after moving the senior from his sweeper position. Carpenter liked what he saw from Corey Fowler, another senior, who filled the sweeper role.
Bauer said the team was communicating better than it did during an 0-2 trip to the Mat-Su valleys last weekend.
"We're understanding each other, knowing where this and that person is going to be, and knowing our positions," Bauer said.
Bennett's goals for the Nikiski girls each were long-range blasts. Her first came about eight minutes into the match as she drove a ball toward the net from 40 yards out. The ball dipped and took an awkward bounce, slipping past the Skyview keeper.
The Panthers equalized just before the half. Amanda Millay collected the ball at the midfield stripe, beat the Nikiski defense with a couple nifty moves and burst of speed, and neatly tucked her shot away.
Nikiski regained its lead midway through the second half, though, when Whitney Hitchcock scored on a penalty kick for the Bulldogs.
Skyview had been able to mount some nice attacks early in the second half with Millay and Joanna Graves making nice runs from the midfield positions and Ginny Berg distributing the ball, but the Bulldogs defense was able to hold firm and Sarah Herrin made several solid saves.
"I'm very pleased," said Nikiski coach Richard Kelso. "We just played a very solid game tough in the midfield and no-nonsense in the back."
Bennett scored the final goal of the match in the last two minutes of play, again sending a long shot toward the net.
"I was just trying to help out the forwards. We were just trying to take our shots and go forward the whole game," said Bennett.
Bennett said the team was playing well as a unit.
"We have a lot of team unity and a lot of team spirit," Bennett said. "It seems to be coming together well. We're passing better and taking shots. ... We're just playing hard."
Skyview coach Ronnie Kier said his squad was getting some tough breaks.
"The girls are playing well we just can't get into the win column," Kier said. "Some of the breaks will start going our way, and we'll be good."
Skyview will host Ketchikan today, visit Seward Friday and host Kenai Saturday. Nikiski will host Palmer Friday and Colony Saturday.
Homer girls 3, Soldotna 1
Homer sophomore Claire Siekaniec notched a hat trick in the first half Tuesday to lead the host Mariners past the Stars in Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division action.
Homer boys 4, Soldotna 0
Francis Carvalho and Dylan Toole each had two goals as the host Mariners picked up a Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division victory Tuesday over the Stars. Taber Webb had the shutout for the Mariners.
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