With time winding down and her team trailing the Bulldogs 1-0 Tuesday at Nikiski, Seward defender Kristi Regis felt it was an appropriate point to yell to sophomore striker Miranda Mahle, "There's three minutes left. Let's do it now!"
Similar encouragements of desperation have gone unanswered in many a soccer game before, but for some reason this time Regis' suggestion worked like a charm.
A short time later, Mahle found herself at the top of the penalty area and laced a shot past Nikiski goalie Karen Rabung to earn the Seahawks a 1-1 tie in Region III action.
Earlier in the day, the Nikiski boys had tallied a 3-0 victory over the Seahawks.
Mahle's clutch shot appeared to glance off a Nikiski defender and into the net, but after the game the Bulldogs defenders said they did not touch it.
"It looked like a deflection to me, too," said Nikiski coach Richard Kelso, whose team is now 1-4-1. "After the game I asked and none of the players said they had touched it.
"It would have been nice to win, but I'm happy with the tie."
Mahle, who got her fifth goal of the year on the play, also wasn't quite sure what happened on the play. Maybe the odd flight the ball took was due to the wind, which had spruce trees bowing like they were Ugly Sticks latched on to a halibut.
"I think it bounced off somebody, but I'm not sure if it was one of our players or one of their players," said Mahle, who had the wind at her back when she took the shot. "All I know is that it went in."
Nikiski got its lone goal of the game in the first half, when it had the wind at its back. The Seahawks committed a hand ball in the penalty area and Amanda Weaver stuck the penalty kick past Seward goalie Jamie Fredrickson.
Seward coach Laura Beck, whose team is now 1-3-2, gave credit to Mahle and striker Megan Schaugaard for sticking with the attack even as time was running out. Beck also was pleased with the efforts of midfielder Angela Perry and stopper Amber St. Amand.
"They needed this so bad," said Beck, whose team has lost a handful of 2-0 games this year. "Usually, we're down 1-0 and late in the game we let up and the team scores again.
"Today, we got the tie."
Kelso said Rainey Reilly and Kayle Meyer did a good job for the Bulldogs on defense, while April Lofstedt, Weaver and Laura-Beth Covich had some combinations in the midfield that were pleasant to watch. He also liked the effort of Samantha Roofe and Emily Grimes.
In the boys game, Nikiski's defense was its usual steady self as goalkeeper Josh Winters recorded his first shutout of the year by making nine saves.
"This was one game where I knew I had a good chance of getting a shutout," Winters said. "It wasn't easy. That wind wasn't helping me at all."
The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead in the first half with the wind at their backs to cruise to victory.
Chris Roofe scored the first two goals for Nikiski. Roofe is normally a midfielder, but he was moved to forward because he was battling injury and forward isn't as hard on the body as midfield.
Roofe's first goal was unassisted, while his second goal was assisted by Steven Calderwood. John Rooper picked up the final goal on an assist from Dan Gerhauser.
"The big emphasis today was on defense," said Nikiski coach Jim Coburn, whose team improved to 2-4. "Defense was important with the strong wind. Our defense came through and got its first shutout of the season."
Nikiski was missing four starters because of a choir trip, but a number of people stepped up to replace them.
Calderwood slid into Roofe's center midfield slot and made the transition just fine. Brandon Huhndorf also did a solid job at right midfield.
Seward coach Marvin Tapsfield was happy with the game his team put together. Monday, the Seahawks had their first practice on a field. Tapsfield said that one practice helped tremendously Tuesday.
"It's a lot different when you can teach them on a soccer field instead of a gym, a baseball field or a gravel lot," Tapsfield said after his team dropped to 0-6.
The Seahawks are a young team, playing just two seniors and three juniors, so their best days are ahead of them. Seward's freshman boys won the borough tournament last year.
Tapsfield liked the effort Tuesday of sweeper Tom Wolfarth, defenders Brandon Tams, Ryan Gaule and Scott Hubbard, and midfielders Luke Davis, Seth Price, Nino Engelhardt and Tom Buchanan.
Robbie Blankenship also did a good job battling the wind in goal.
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