Soldotna's Kevin Laurion and Colony's Dan Camargo go after the ball Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Soldotna High School girls soccer team weathered a ferocious storm of shots from the Colony Knights, then broke free to score the only goal of the match for a 1-0 Northern Lights Conference victory Friday at Soldotna.
In the boys match, the Knights were able to find some space on Soldotna's small field in the second half to notch a 4-1 win.
"We weathered the storm," said Soldotna girls coach Jimmy Love. "We figured they were going to come out strong after a tough game against Kenai (Thursday). We were prepared to weather the storm, and we played stronger after we got past that point."
It took the Stars a while to get through the Colony storm. The Knights pounded the Soldotna goal with shots for much of the second half, though many of them sailed over the net, and everything on target was handled by Soldotna goalkeeper Maricela Sanchez.
The Stars started generating some attacks late in the half, and Hannah Anderson finally put the home side on the scoreboard in the 75th minute, tapping home a cross from Eve Green, who was able to track down a ball played to the right side of the field.
Colony's Ian Walton collides with Soldotna goal keeper Kory Wilbanks as Wilbanks makes a save Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"We had plenty of opportunities," said Colony coach Lorie Miner, noting her side put 20 shots on goal to Soldotna's nine. "Our kazillion shots to their nine, and they capitalized on one of their nine."
Even Love said the Knights dominated play for most of the match.
"We probably shouldn't have won," said Love. "... Maricela made some nice saves and (Colony) missed some key shots."
Helping the Stars withstand Colony's attack was a group of defenders that simply kept pushing the ball to the outside of the field, trying to keep the Knights from getting open shots from dangerous spots.
"We just made them put the ball where we wanted it, and tried to play our game," said Soldotna defender Allie Schoessler.
The Stars were able to keep the Knights bunched up in the midfield, never letting them find too much open space even their shots on goal came out of crowds of players. Soldotna's goal came after one of the few times during the match that the Stars were able to string together a couple of passes and spring a player from the muddle in the middle.
"One of the things we talked about at half was, this game is a possession game. If you can't possess the ball, you're going to lose," Love said.
Schoessler said the win would give the Stars a boost as they prepare for NLC-Southern Division matches this week against Kenai, Nikiski and Seward, as well as a nondivision match with Wasilla.
"We're really excited to win. It's good to have a win to keep our spirits up," Schoessler said.
The Soldotna boys scored first against Colony as Brennen Jackson fired a wide-angle shot that snuck past the Colony keeper midway through the first half.
The Knights leveled the match seven minutes later as Gerald Miller scored with an assist from Teemu Maki.
Colony took control in the second half, though, finding a way to spread things out.
"They spread us out in the second half and were able to pass around," said Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers.
The Knights pumped in three goals in the second half: Maki scored twice, finding the back of the net in the 45th and the 53rd minutes, and Dan Camargo finished off a drive toward the goal by Miller in the 66th minute.
"We started to spread things out, keep possession and be more patient," Miller said. "We got our crosses in and were able to put them on target and put it into the net."
Siemers said he thought his team played a good first half and added that his defense is looking better every game.
"Our defense is continually playing well. We're getting better with our one-on-ones and containment, but we still need some work on that," he said.
The Moose scored the only goal of the Northern Lights Conference match midway through the first half, and while they had some nice chances, the Stars weren't able to tie it up.
Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said he was pleased with the play of goalkeeper Maricela Sanchez, crediting her with bouncing right back after Palmer scored.
"Playing goalie, you're the last line of defense and sometimes you can take it personally," Love said. "She bounced right back. She got her head right back in the game and played really tough to keep it 1-0."
Love also complimented the effort of midfielder Lauren Senette.
"We're keeping the games close; now we just need to start popping some goals in," said Love.
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