Homer's Yordi Carvahlo, left, and Beto Cosio, right, keep Nikiskis Kenny Fagan from the ball in the first half Saturday at Nikiski.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Start your season on Thursday, qualify for the conference tournament by Saturday afternoon not a bad three days of work for the Nikiski High School boys soccer team.
The Bulldogs opened their season with a nonconference win over Ketchikan Thursday and followed it with a Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division win at Seward Friday, and an NLC-South victory over Homer at Nikiski Saturday. The six points in division play all but assure the Bulldogs a spot in the NLC tournament May 12 and 13, to be hosted by Skyview.
“And we’ve now played more games than we’ve had practices on grass,” said Nikiski coach James Coburn. “It’s been a real challenging year.”
Things also have been challenging for the Nikiski girls, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Seward Friday. The Homer girls defeated Nikiski 12-0 Saturday.
Israel Blatchford scored the match-winner for the Nikiski boys, lofting a ball into the Homer penalty area from near the touchline and about 25 yards from the endline. Blatchford’s cross carried over the Homer goalkeeper and dipped just inside the upper corner of the far post for a 3-2 Bulldogs win.
“It felt pretty good to get out there and put some goals in,” Blatchford said. “It’s always good when it’s a close game, and you can put one in and win the game.”
The Homer boys took an early lead on the Bulldogs in Saturday’s match when Dylon Toole got his foot on a ball bouncing across the Nikiski penalty area and knocked it through a crowd and into the net in the eighth minute.
The Bulldogs were able to equalize eight minutes later, though, when Blatchford made a nice cut across the Homer penalty area and fired home his shot.
Nikiski's Rick Miller makes a save in the second half in front of teammates Nick Kellie (4) and Ian Krogseng (14) and Homer's Dylon Toole.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Nikiski took a 2-1 lead in the 29th minute when Justin Vance was able to settle the ball near the end line and just wide of the Homer goal. Vance was able to turn and slip a shot just inside the near post.
Homer sent the game to halftime tied at two, though, when Yordi Carvahlo put a shot just under the crossbar in the 31st minute.
“We’re finally starting to get everything together as a team,” said Homer coach Paul Bacher. “This was probably our best game as a team. We’re finally getting everything meshed together.
“... Communication was a big thing. Communication and ball control, those two things allowed us to set the tempo of the game.”
Homer did a nice job moving the ball with Toole anchoring the midfield, and the Bulldogs countered by keeping things simple settling the ball quickly and making the easy pass to an open teammate, and tackling well on defense.
Goalkeeper Rick Miller also came up big, getting his hands on most of Homer’s crosses and corker kicks and plucking the ball out of the air.
“We communicated well and encouraged each other. That helped,” Blatchford said.
Against Seward, Paul Delago and Justin Vance scored as the Bulldogs won 2-1.
The Bulldogs will have a busy week, with matches against Kenai Monday and Soldotna Tuesday, and a three-game Mat-Su swing Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Homer visits Soldotna Monday.
Homer girls 12, Nikiski 0
The Mariners led 7-0 at the half.
Kyenna McKinstry scored three goals for Homer, Emily Kizzia and Claire Siekaniec each scored twice, and Kalie Petska, Kelliann McCune, Hannah Andrews, Jaclyn Arndt and Teal Laukitis each had a goal.
The Mariners were coming off a 2-2 tie with Colony Friday. Kizzia and Siekaniec scored for the Mariners in Friday’s game.
“Each of these early games is like a practice for us. We’re making adjustments during each game,” said Homer coach Mickey Todd. “We’ve been playing real good soccer, we just haven’t been finishing the ball.”
Todd also said Kathryn McCarron has been solid in goal for the Mariners.
Nikiski coach Tom Bennett said his central defender Sherra Pritchard was doing an admirable job under a tremendous amount of pressure.
“It’s a hard job playing center D against a team that passes like that,” Bennett said.
Bennett also complimented the play of Alexa McClure, and said the Bulldogs are making progress.
“We’re coming along. It’s just a matter of learning on the job,” Bennett said.
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