Three starters were missing, and the taste of a tie from the previous evening was still fresh.
But Kenai Central remained undefeated in high school varsity girls soccer Saturday afternoon, turning back rival Soldotna 3-0. Sophomore Shelby Daly scored a pair of second-half goals and freshman Casey Coupchiak tallied in the first half while sophomore Lacey Wortham posted the shutout in goal.
“We had three starters out and so I was a little nervous because we know Soldotna always brings a tough game,” Kenai head coach Dan Verkuilen said. “We talked about being aggressive.”
The Kardinals (5-0-2) chose to go into the wind in the first half and were successful, taking a 1-0 lead at intermission.
Coupchiak scored in the 38th minute, making a long run in possession against a defender. She then beat the goalie’s defense by squirting a shot to the right which kicked in off the post.
Daly, from the left side a few yards beyond the 18-box, drilled a direct kick just under the crossbar in the 43rd minute. In the 77th minute, Daly and sophomore Hannah Delaney worked to beat the keeper at the top of the 18-box, and Daly eventually put a shot into the net from less than 5 yards away.
Playing with the lead and the wind in the second half, the Kardinals were tougher by getting balls through the middle more often. Kenai defenders easily cleared balls to the outside lines, and Verkuilen came away impressed by his team’s character.
“We were disappointed to tie last night,” Verkuilen said of the 0-0 match against Skyview. “We had a chance to win, but we didn’t and we came out today and played well. We got a chance to play a lot of young kids, and they did well. We didn’t lose any heart.”
Verkuilen’s team enters the final week of the season looking to add three more peninsula teams to its list of victims. The Kards will go to Seward Tuesday, and then wrap up the home slate with Nikiski before traveling to Homer on Saturday.
“We’re not a deep team yet,” Verkuilen said, “but we have a lot of potential. There is talent there; it’s just a different game coming up from JV.”
Soldotna boys 5 Kenai boys 1
Senior Christos Asimakopoulos and freshman Blaine Carver scored two goals each to spark the Stars past Kenai 5-1 in the varsity boys soccer test.
Head coach Jeff Siemers’ winning squad also got a goal from senior Brook Carver.
The Kenai goal was scored by junior Cory Toombs.
“This is one of the better teams in the South Division,” Siemers said of the Kardinals (4-1-3). “It’s good to get a win against them.”
If not for the work of Kenai junior goalie Justin Wisniewski, the score differential might have been more significant.
The Kardinals went a man down in the 33rd minute when freshman Michael Morin was red-carded. Morin went out following a dangerous play from behind on a Soldotna sophomore Taylor Jackson.
The score was tied 1-1 at the time, and the Stars (5-1) quickly added goals in the 34th and 36th minutes to take a 3-1 lead at intermission.
“With 11 versus 10, it’s much easier to maintain and work possession,” Siemers said.
Soldotna closes the regular season with four matches this week, starting Monday at Skyview. The Stars also host Nikiski Tuesday, and then wrap up with Homer and Seward.
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