The Kenai Central High School girls soccer team fell into an early hole and couldn’t quite get out of it Tuesday in a 2-1 loss to Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division foe Homer at Kenai.
Homer scored a pair of goals in the opening 15 minutes before the Kardinals, playing into the wind in the first half, started to show some life.
“We came out really flat. It’s the first time we’ve lost to Homer in nine years. In the second half, we got a little wind at our backs and dominated the game,” said Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen.
While the Kardinals dictated play, it didn’t translate into goals. Keeley Boyle netted one for Kenai, but the Kardinals missed several other golden opportunities, including a penalty kick, as the Mariners hung on for the win.
At 5-0 in division play, Homer will be the top seed at this weekend’s conference tournament. Kenai, 4-1 in division play, will be No. 2.
“It’s a good lesson for regions. You have to come out and play right away, otherwise you might get stung,” Verkuilen said. “I was proud of them to show some attitude in the second half. It just wasn’t our night to finish them.”
Kenai boys 3, Homer 1
Despite coming out flat, the Kenai boys scored three minutes into the Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division match when Ju Kim connected with Jeremy Narlock, who tucked the ball home for a goal.
Two minutes later, Kenai was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Keeper Justin Wisniewski made a beauty of a save on the ensuing penalty kick, though, then made another stop on the rebound shot.
Wisniewski’s effort took the wind from the Mariners’ sails, and Narlock set up Brad Fusaro to put Kenai up 2-0 seven minutes into the match.
Narlock opened the second half with his second goal, assisted by Kim. Homer scored off a corner kick in the 68th minute.
“We’ll be happy with a 3-1 victory, but you can tell guys are still tired. We have a tendency to play to our competition, which is a dangerous habit to fall into,” said Kenai coach David Landry.
Jake Malanaphy played well on defense for the Kardinals, and Dusty Ward continued to work hard in the midfield. Landry also credited his strikers with distributing the ball well and making some nice runs.
Kenai stands at 6-4-1 after starting the season 0-3 and will be the division’s top seed when the conference tournament kicks off Friday.
Skyview girls 5, Nikiski 0
The Panthers picked up wins in their last two regular-season matches to earn a berth in the conference tournament, defeating Nikiski in a Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division game at Nikiski.
“We got the win, so I think we snuck into regions,” said Skyview coach Ronnie Kier. “We pretty much all just stepped up. We knew we had to get those last two wins to make it into regions. We put forth the effort and came out with the W’s.”
The Panthers got a pair of goals from Amanda Millay. Nicole VanRyzin, Chelsea Martin and Joanna Graves also scored for the Panthers.
Skyview boys 1, Nikiski 1
The Panthers and Bulldogs played to a draw in their regular-season Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division finale at Nikiski.
“(Skyview) put a lot of shots on goal early, but Rick Miller was able to keep the ball out of the goal, and our defense played solid,” said Nikiski coach Jim Coburn.
Nikiski scored the first goal of the match in the middle of the second half before the Panthers were able to equalize a short time later.
The Bulldogs finish with a 2-0-3 mark in division play; it is the first time the team has gone unbeaten in the division.
“The kids played really hard. Skyview has a lot of skilled players on their team. It was a tough-fought game,” Coburn said.
With a win and a tie in their last two games, the Panthers qualify for the conference tournament with a 2-2-1 division record. Skyview hosts the tournament, which starts Friday.
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