Soldotna's Jessi Stenga and Skyview's Amanda Millay go for the ball in the first half Thursday at Soldotna.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Soldotna High School soccer teams posted a pair of wins over Skyview Thursday in Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division play.
While the matches were hosted by the Panthers, they were played on the Soldotna Middle School field because the Skyview pitch is not yet playable.
In the girls match, the Stars answered a Skyview goal with two of their own to win 2-1.
In the boys match, Soldotna stole the momentum away just before the half after being awarded a penalty kick, and the Stars added three second-half goals to win 4-1.
The match was not without some tension, though, as the Stars accrued five yellow-card cautions, while a pair of Panthers went into the referee’s book.
“I want my boys to play a clean game this year,” said Skyview boys coach Rob Albers.
Albers, in his first season coaching the Panthers, said he was disappointed with the cheap shots he saw during the match and would like to see more skilled play from other peninsula sides, rather than the chippy style for which some teams have a reputation.
The Panthers were able to move the ball through the midfield with ease through much of the first half with a nice passing game, keyed by the work of Buck Kunz and Tyler Thornton in the middle of the park.
Skyview’s patience paid off in the 29th minute on a direct kick from 30 yards out. Thornton chipped the ball over the Stars’ defensive wall, and after a bounce in the penalty area, Shane Strausbaugh was able to turn and place the ball into the net.
Brook Carver was able to convert a penalty kick for the Stars just before the half, though, and Soldotna maintained pressure in the Skyview end of the field for much of the second half.
“We were subbing quite a bit and keeping our midfield fresh. I think that helped quite a bit with possessing the ball and getting some decent opportunities,” said Soldotna coach Jeff Siemers.
Skyview goalkeeper DJ Foister came up with several big stops and the match appeared to be headed for a tie before Soldotna’s Kevin Laurion scored on a free kick from 25 yards out in the 71st minute. Laurion’s kick took a deflection of a Skyview defender in the box and arced out of Foister’s reach.
Anthony Griglione made it 3-1 in the 74th minute, heading home a corner kick, and Carver netted his second goal off a free kick from 25 yards out in the 80th minute, sliding his shot through a crowd of players in the penalty area.
“The game was a lot closer than a 4-1 score, but it’s always good to come out ahead,” Siemers said, adding that his players off the bench made the difference in the match.
While Albers said he would like to see a classier style of play, he also credited the Stars with coming up with the win.
“We played a great game. We possessed most of the game, but we couldn’t beat cheap play.
“SoHi did put it away. They did get the win,” Albers said.
Soldotna, 3-4-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the NLC-South, hosts Kenai Saturday.
The Panthers, 1-5 overall and 1-2 in the division, face Palmer today at Soldotna Middle School.
Soldotna girls 2, Skyview 1
Skyview’s Amanda Millay opened the second half with a cracking goal, firing a shot from 20 yards out after taking a pretty pass from Joanna Graves in the 43rd minute.
Soldotna equalized seven minutes later when Holly Perkins blasted a shot off a direct kick from just outside the Skyview penalty area that took a deflection off the Skyview wall and carried over goalkeeper Chantal Schefers.
Jessi Stenga scored the matchwinner for the Stars in the 69th minute, converting on a penalty kick.
While Soldotna coach Jimmy Love was pleased with the win, he was less than thrilled with the way his team played.
“We didn’t play at the caliber we’re capable of,” Love said. “If I could put my finger on it, we’d be working on it. We’re just not ready to go when the whistle blows for the first half. We’re not a two-half team.”
Love said his team’s performance wasn’t entirely lacking; he’d just like to see it come out and play a full 80 minutes.
“There were moments when we did some great stuff, and moments where we had lapses,” Love said.
Skyview coach Ronnie Kier said his team played a much better match after a poor showing Tuesday in Homer.
“They bounced back. That’s the thing we asked them to do today,” Kier said. “Hopefully, we can get a couple of wins and squeeze into the region tournament,” Kier said.
Kier said the results have been tough on his goalkeeper, though he said she’s been doing a great job.
“Chantal’s play has, by far, exceeded any expectations we had this year. At the keeper position, all the pressure is on you. She has played spectacular. Hopefully, our offense can kick it in and get her some run support,” Kier said.
Palmer girls 4, Homer 1
Palmer boys 6, Homer 0
The Moose swept a pair of non-division matches Thursday in Homer.
Kyenna McKinstry scored the lone goal for the Homer girls.
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