The Nikiski High School girls and boys soccer teams finished the regular season with a pair of losses to the visiting Wasilla Warriors in a nondivision match Saturday.
The Nikiski girls, weary after playing their fifth match in six days, fell 4-0 to the Warriors. The Bulldogs, 0-4-1 in Region III Southern Division play, played with the goal of finishing with all they had but will miss next week's region tournament.
The Nikiski boys, 3-2 in division competition, have qualified for the tournament. The Bulldogs suffered a 3-0 defeat to the Warriors, but were playing with the goal of improving as much as they could before regions.
"Every game, we're trying to get better," said Nikiski's Nick Russell. "This game, we were trying to get better."
Wasilla's Angelo Ebenal scored all three Warriors goals. The first came early in the match when he placed a direct kick from 25 yards out just inside the post. He scored again late in the first half, receiving a throw-in and making a nice cut in the Nikiski penalty area before firing a shot home. Ebenal's third goal came with about five minutes left in the match when he converted a penalty kick.
Nikiski coach Jim Coburn credited Bulldogs goalkeeper Rick Miller with a solid match despite the goals. Miller made several great stops during the course of the match to keep his team in the game.
Coburn also liked the play he got from Joe Keith, Ben Kellie and sweeper Ryan Swanson.
"We played some guys we don't normally play," Coburn said. "With three games in three days, it difficult. Our play dropped off in the third game."
The Bulldogs were coming off a 2-0 division win in Seward Friday. Israel Blatchford and Chaunsy Seater scored for the Bulldogs and Miller was in goal for the shutout. Coburn said Travis McGahan and Zack McIrvin also stood out in the match.
Playing well in Saturday's loss, the Bulldogs continue to work to improve their team chemistry.
"We're trying to play as a team," said Russell. "We've started talking a little bit better, started passing a little bit better, started working together."
Nikiski girls coach Richard Kelso said his team was "knackered" after a tough loss at Seward Friday.
Clare Bennette and Amber Huhndorf scored for the Bulldogs against the Seahawks, but Seward came back to win the match 3-2.
Kelso said it was tough for his players to maintain their work rate and put pressure on the ball after so many games in so short a stretch, but commended them for trying.
"The girls came up with a big effort," Kelso said.
Kelso added that Alexa McClure played well in goal, filling in for the injured Sarah Herrin. McClure was seeing her first action as a goalkeeper but was sidelined late in Saturday's match after coming off her line to make a stop and colliding with a Wasilla forward. The Wasilla player was carded on the play and Johannah Johns finished the game in net.
Nikiski's Sasha Auldridge said that even with the tough finish, she still enjoyed the season.
"We had a lot of fun," Auldridge said. "We worked real hard in practice. I just wish we could have scored one today."
Tiffany Smodey scored for the Warriors in the first half while Tarrah Naczi, Courtnie Hussman and Leslie Carson scored in the second half.
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