Soccer is a funny game. Teams battle for 80 minutes, but quite often, the outcome of the match is decided in the space of just a few seconds.
Such was the case Friday at Skyview High School, when Kenai's Greg Landua netted a quick goal with about four minutes remaining in a Region III match to give the Kardinals a 1-0 win in an otherwise evenly played match.
The Skyview girls also netted a quick goal against the Kardinals Friday, but it wasn't enough as the Kenai girls notched a 3-1 victory.
The Skyview boys, with Dorian Heatherly back in net, kept Kenai's attack corralled for 76 minutes. The Kardinals had some nice opportunities, but their shots tended to sail harmlessly over the net.
With the game knotted at zero and time slipping away, Skyview coach Dave Carpenter opted to send Heatherly forward looking for a goal.
Enter Skyview freshman keeper Mitch Burdick, who wasn't on the field for more than 15 seconds when he was faced with trying to get his hands on Landua's wickedly dipping shot. Landua took a feed from Brett Morris, touched the ball past a Skyview defender and unleashed a shot that would have been close to impossible for any keeper to stop from about 25 yards out.
"I got a great pass from Brett," Landua said. "A guys rushed at me and I touched the ball around him. I saw the keeper was out a little bit, and I just drilled it. It was close -- it was right under the crossbar."
Heatherly came right back with a good-looking bid from about 30 yards out, but Kenai keeper Eric Nyce did well to tip it over his net to preserve his clean sheet.
"We talked about it, if it was 0-0 late in the game, Dorian's coming out to take a shot," Carpenter said, adding that Burdick handled himself well under difficult circumstances.
"They got the lucky shot, and we didn't get one."
The Kardinals were able to sustain their attack with good play through the midfield, supported by a staunch defense.
"In the second half, when the pressure was building up, they did a great job," Landua said of the Kenai back line.
Kenai coach Dave Landry said that his team knows it's capable of scoring the late goal, and didn't get discourage when early attempts on net didn't pan out.
"We had so many chances to do just a little more (with the ball) than we did," Landry said. "We were about a half a pass off, but sooner or later, you get rewarded. It's not the first time that we've scored late."
Landry liked the play of Landua, Morris and Ryan Whiteley in the midfield.
Carpenter also was pleased with the way his team played in the midfield, particularly after coming out flat on Thursday against Ketchikan.
"We played spirited soccer," Carpenter said, noting that Leon Galbraith, Evan Guido and Josh Rowell performed well for the Panthers.
The Kenai and Skyview girls also played a scoreless first half, but the Kardinals broke through early in the second half courtesy of a Katherine Amen goal.
Jamie Montgomery started the play with a throw-in deep in Skyview territory. Cory Hershberger got a piece of the ball to keep it moving across the Skyview goal. Jessi Reilly got her body on the ball and knocked it to Amen, who was in the perfect position to finish things off at the far post in the 46th minute.
"I didn't really get a good foot on it, but Katherine was right there on the post," Reilly said.
Kenai went up 2-0 five minutes later when a pass played into the penalty area was deflected into the net by a Panthers defender for an own goal, but Skyview responded in the 56th minute with a goal by Anne Verba.
The Panthers were able to counter quickly, catching Kenai's defense flat across the back and creating a numbers-up situation. Katie Verba was able to play the ball ahead to Anne, who chipped her shot past Kenai keeper Stephanie Arbelovsky and into the net.
Kenai restored its two-goal lead with four minutes left in the game when Karli Knudsen finished off a nice build-up by the Kardinals with a well-taken shot from the right side.
The Kardinals did muster 34 shots to the Panthers' five, but Skyview's defense did a good job in limiting Kenai's actual scoring chances.
"By my count, they had five really good shots on goal," said Skyview girls coach Tony Lewis. "Our defense is solid. Even though they were always in our half, they didn't get many good shots, and with our goalie, it's going to take a good shot."
"I felt like I was really crowded," Reilly said of trying to find some room to maneuver between Skyview defenders. "I was always in the wrong spot at the wrong time, and they dropped back a lot (of players)."
Reilly said that sustaining pressure has been easier for the Kardinals attackers with support from the defense and midfield.
"We're getting a lot of our midfielders pushing up, and our defense is pushing up and just busting the ball back in there when they try to clear."
Kenai girls coach Dan Verkuilen liked the way his team was able to move the ball in the attacking zone.
"(Our shots) didn't all go in, but sometimes games are like that," Verkuilen said. "Skyview was putting eight people back on defense. You're going to get a lot of shots, but they did a good job of clearing them away."
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