Homer girls top SoHi, earn No. 1 seed

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Homer girls soccer team earned the No. 1 seed from the Region III Southern Division Monday with a 2-0 victory over Soldotna at Justin Maile Field.

In the boys game, the Stars and Mariners played to a 2-2 tie and both finished with 2-2-1 records in the region. Unofficially, the Stars will get the No. 3 seed and the Mariners will be No. 4 because SoHi tied Grace Christian and Wasilla, while Homer lost to both of those sides.

The Homer girls finish their regular season with a 4-0-1 record in the region, while the Stars finish 4-1 in the region.

"I'm speechless," said Homer striker Chantrelle Cousins. "I'm so glad we beat them."

Cousins and her teammates created a number of good chances on the Soldotna net, but the game was scoreless at the end of the first half.

The best scoring chance came 24 minutes into the first half, when Claire Siekaniec played a through ball to Cousins in the corner of the penalty area. Cousins rolled the ball past Soldotna keeper Marlana McCown toward the net, but Soldotna defender Erin Hartman was able to clear the ball off the goal line.

In the second half, the Mariners had to attack against the wind. Many teams would consider this a disadvantage, but the Mariners found it to their liking.

"It slowed the ball down more," Cousins said. "When the ball slows down more, we're more relaxed."

Homer put on lots of pressure in the opening minutes of the half, highlighted by Siekaniec knocking a shot off the crossbar five minutes into the half.

In the 19th minute of the half, Homer finally broke through. Siekaniec looped a shot toward the corner of the goal. McCown knocked the ball down, but Homer's Bailey Lowney kept her from controlling the rebound.

In the frenzy for the loose ball, the ball ended up at the feet of Cousins in the center of the penalty area. She rolled it into the far corner for a goal.

"The opportunities were there all game, we just weren't making the right decisions, but we kept pressing and pressing," Cousins said.

Two minutes later, Homer grabbed a two-goal cushion when Siekaniec hit a perfect corner kick to Candi Fidino, who nudged the ball into the far corner of the net with her head.

"That was what our coach calls soccer poetry," Cousins said.

Homer had another header off the crossbar three minutes later, but after that Soldotna turned the tide and started doing some attacking on Homer's net.

Soldotna's best chance came with seven minutes left, when a corner kick by Christa Kennedy beat Homer goalie Kathryn McCorren, but a Homer defender backing her up cleared the ball out of the mouth of the goal.

Homer defenders Kyenna McKinstry, Katie Gavenus, Kellian McCune and Katie Arno held on to get their fifth shutout of the season. Homer gave up only eight goals all year, with four coming in one game against Kenai.

Soldotna midfielder Annie Penner said Homer did a good job getting to the ball first Monday.

"It was a big game, but we just weren't up for it," Penner said. "They beat us to the 50-50 balls."

Penner said when Homer took a two-goal lead, it was a wakeup call for the Stars. She said they will need to play with the energy they had in closing the game at the region tournament Friday.

In the boys game, Homer was issued two yellow cards and Soldotna earned three yellow cards and a red card. The red card went to Soldotna midfielder Johnny Mills. That means one of Soldotna's main scoring threats and playmakers will miss the opening game of the region tournament.

Homer scored just four minutes into the game, when Justin Adams rolled in a shot from the top of the penalty area.

In the 32nd minute, Matt Vasilie earned a penalty kick and Mills tied the game up by converting the chance. Just two minutes later, Shane Tachick gave Soldotna the lead when a scramble in the box gave him a look at an open net.

Five minutes into the second half, Dylan Toole was taken down in the penalty box and converted the penalty kick to tie up the game.

Mills was red-carded 11 minutes into the second half, forcing Soldotna to play short-handed the rest of the game.

However, Soldotna goalie Kory Wilbanks, playing in his first full varsity match, and the Stars handled the disadvantage and preserved the tie.

Homer coach Mike Olson also gave a lot of credit to his goalie, Taber Webb. Webb took a shot in the face in the first half but still had a solid game.

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