The Skyview High School boys soccer team found its scoring touch in the second half of its match with Wasilla Thursday, connecting for five goals after halftime in a 6-3 Northern Lights Conference win at Skyview.
Also Thursday, the Skyview girls lost 1-0 to the visiting Warriors.
"Coming into this game knowing they're playing hard and seeing us playing harder, there's definitely a sense of pride knowing we're on top of the region right now," said Skyview boys goalkeeper Matt Stalnik.
Indeed, Thursday's match was Wasilla's first loss of the season. While it was a nondivision game, it could have tie-break implications as the Warriors (6-1-3 overall) battle with Colony for the top spot in the Northern Division.
Skyview's next test comes today when the Panthers (4-4-1 overall, 3-0-0 NLC-South) tangle with division co-leader Homer (7-2-0, 3-0) in Homer.
"It's definitely going to be a big game for us," Stalnik said.
Skyview got on the board against Wasilla in the 15th minute when Kyle Eshleman received a cross from Trevor Barber at the top of the Wasilla penalty area and fired the shot on goal. Wasilla's goalkeeper parried away the shot, but Eshleman got to the rebound first and dribbled it into the goal.
Aaron Bean equalized for the Warriors in the 33rd minute as Wasilla took advantage of a direct kick awarded just outside the Skyview penalty area, and the teams went into halftime tied.
The match was quickly untied, however, as Eshleman netted his second goal in the opening minute of the second half. A long, wind-aided punt from Stalnik was misplayed by the Wasilla defense, and Eshleman slipped between defenders and touched the ball past the charging Wasilla keeper.
Tyler Thornton made it a two-goal lead just three minutes later, rocketing a shot from 20 yards out to the far post.
"Tyler's shot was a rocket we've been waiting to see," Stalnik said. "Everything's starting to click, and that's what's important heading into regions."
Wasilla pulled back to within a goal in the 52nd minute when Vladimir Dahl headed in a goal after a Warriors corner kick was tipped off the crossbar.
Barber made it 4-2 five minutes later, curling a shot from the top right corner of the Wasilla penalty area into the upper left corner of the goal, then made it a three-goal game by converting a penalty kick in the 74th minute.
Barber made it a hat trick in the 77th minute, receiving a short pass from a corner kick, taking a couple of touches toward the goal, then firing a shot to the near post.
Wasilla added a goal in the 78th minute on a nice shot from Victor Fonov.
"Skyview is a good team. You have to give them credit they outplayed us today," said Wasilla coach Blake Livingston.
Overshadowed by the offensive fireworks was some nice defensive play from Skyview's Buck Kunz, who did well tackling in the middle of the field, frequently winning the ball and passing it forward.
Wasilla girls 1, Skyview 0
The Panthers had some chances but couldn't put any away in a NLC match.
"It's the same old story we played great soccer but we couldn't score goals," said Skyview coach Ronnie Kier.
Kier said Chantal Schefers played another solid game in goal. Amber Kunz had some nice scoring chances from her striker position, and Ginny Berg controlled the center of the field.
"We get better and better with every game. We started good. Now we're up to playing well. Once we start scoring goals with consistency that's where we want to be. Lack of scoring goals is what's hurting us," Kier said.
The Panthers are 2-5-0 overall and 1-2-0 in the NLC-South. The Panthers have two division matches to play today at Homer and Monday at home against Soldotna, a game that could determine the Southern Division's fourth and final seed to the conference tournament.
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