A fast start by the Kenai Central girls and a strong finish by the Kenai boys gave the host Kardinals a sweep of nonconference foe Ketchikan on Thursday.
In the girls game, Kenai scored two goals in the first four minutes of the game en route to topping the Kings 4-0. The Kardinals improved to 4-1 overall while Ketchikan fell to 3-5.
In the boys game, Kenai notched a penalty kick in injury time for a 2-1 victory. The Kards are now 2-1-2, while Ketchikan is 3-4.
Starting quickly has become a habit for the Kardinals this year.
Kenai has scored in the first four minutes in each of its games. The coach said the quick strikes have a lot to do with players like Shelby Daly, Holly Perkins and Casey Coupchiak.
"Casey, Holly and Shelby have strong legs," Verkuilen said. "They can all score from 30 yards out. Then up front, Holly and Casey are pretty quick so they can score in a hurry."
In the first 30 seconds of the game, Perkins put Kenai in the lead when she converted a pass from Amanda Mills. Just three minutes later, Sami Bidwell made it 2-0 when she scored with an assist from Daly.
"We started really flat," Ketchikan girls coach Scott Brandt said. "We had some problems with our defense. They were clustered, and they weren't covering players or passing lanes very well.
"They were leaving Kenai with way too much space outside the penalty area."
Brandt also said the wind, the notorious chilling element at the Kenai field that has more fans watching from cars than the sideline, played a factor in the first two goals.
Verkuilen said his team did a good job of coming out and following the game plan.
"We knew (Ketchikan) had just played a game and we also knew that they played physical," Verkuilen said. "We asked them to move the ball around and to use their quickness. It was passes inside and outside that set up the first couple of goals."
In the 16th minute, Coupchiak got loose on a breakaway and scored. At that point, Brandt lifted goalie Molly Ortiz and inserted Laura Brandt-Erichsen. Brandt said Ortiz was not replaced because the three goals were her fault. The coach said it is tough to recover from allowing three goals in the first 20 minutes.
Kenai struck against Brandt-Erichsen in the 31st minute, when Daly uncorked a thunderous shot from 35 yards out.
After that, Kenai's best chance for a goal came in the 78th minute when Kristina Taylor played a cross in the box and Ketchikan cleared the ball to Sierra Millington, who rifled a shot off the crossbar.
Lacie Wortham and Molly Copple combined on the shutout. Verkuilen said Wortham showed good quickness and judgement in her time in net, which was the first 73 minutes of the game.
Verkuilen said he played a lot of substitutes, and added that they all must have played pretty well because Kenai held on to the shutout. He said Britt Kiser stood out on defense.
Brandt said his player of the game was Kristen Peterson.
"The whole game, she challenged every ball," Brandt said. "In the first half, we were losing just about every 50-50 ball. She was doing what everybody should have been doing."
Brandt also said that Nicolette Johnson did a good job of creating offensive opportunities.
Kenai boys 2, Ketchikan 1
When Cory Toombs scored seven minutes into the game on an assist from McKenan Steinbeck and the Kardinals spent most of the game in Ketchikan's end, it looked like Kenai was on the way to a comfortable victory.
That was until the 75th minute, when Ketchikan's Taylor Knight was pushed off the ball near the top of the penalty box. Tyler Elliot took the resulting penalty kick and buried it in the back of the net for a 1-1 game.
Seven minutes into injury time, Toombs was brought down in the penalty box. Steinback calmly drilled the penalty kick into the net for the victory.
The Kardinals had dominated possession and scoring opportunities in the game. Kenai had 14 shots on goal, while Ketchikan had three. Ketchikan had to take 17 goal kicks, while the Kardinals took just five. Kenai had nine corner kicks while the Kings had two.
"I'm really happy with the effort and the way the boys played," Kenai coach David Landry said.
Landry said Kenai used a formation with three forwards for the first time all year.
"It was just to see if I could get the boys interested a little bit," Landry said. "We've got nine kids getting ready to graduate. It's near the end of the school year. Their heads are in a million different places.
"Sometimes, a new challenge will pique their interest."
The new alignment resulted in chances, but not a lot of goals.
In the 53rd minute, Joakim Vatnaland was tripped fighting for the ball in the box and earned a penalty kick. KayHi goalie Hans Hubbard saved the penalty kick by Kristian Larson, then also made a diving save on the rebound attempt by Toombs.
In the 71st minute, the Kardinals had two sequences where the ball pinballed around the box for multiple shots, but never hit the back of the net.
Landry said that if Kenai was able to get a shot off on crosses, it was always right at the keeper.
Bryson Lowe played well in goal, while Landry said Jeremy Narlock anchored the effort on defense. The coach also said Josh Lazaro and AJ Ewing had solid defensive games, Devin Boyle played well in the midfield and Toombs created chances up front.
Ketchikan coach Wayne Kinunen said his squad was missing three of its top forwards.
"We just played a lot of defense and didn't get much going on the attack," Kinunen said. "Kenai had it 75 percent of the time. They attacked and attacked."
The coach said Ethan Wharton led the effort on defense, and that Elliot had a solid game at midfield.
Palmer boys 3, Nikiski 1
The Moose scored the first three goals in the first half on the way to a nonconference victory over the host Bulldogs on Thursday.
Nikiski closed the first half on a Zack Alkire goal. Ancel Ware assisted on the play. The second half saw no scoring.
"We swung up a lot of JV players and gave them an opportunity to play in a nonconference game," Nikiski coach Jim Coburn said after his team fell to 2-3 overall. "Palmer's very skilled. Theyp played an excellent game."
Coburn said Calvin Williams, Stefan Krogseng and Sam Taylor all had good games on defense. The coach also said that Beau Calderwood played a good game in the midfield.
The Palmer girls also notched a victory over Nikiski.
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