Despite a loss in the regular-season finale, Skyview girls soccer coach David Carpenter believes his team has momentum entering the playoffs.
Alicia West and Nicole Tromblee tallied goals in a 3-2 setback against Wasilla in Northern Lights Conference action Friday at Skyview.
Carpenter called it one of the squad's best efforts this season, despite the outcome. In the boys game, Wasilla won 14-0.
"They played inspired," Carpenter said. "They were relaxed and focused -- played well."
Skyview finishes the regular season 2-3-4 overall and 1-2-2 in the NLC Southern Division and is seeded fourth for the NLC tournament, which begins Thursday at Colony High School. The Panthers will face Wasilla or Colony in the opening round. Wasilla and Colony play Monday for the top seed, with the winner drawing Skyview.
Playing to a one-goal loss against the potential No. 1 team from the NLC Northern Division boosts Skyview's confidence, Carpenter said.
"They are starting to mature," the coach said. "I think we are starting to come together at the right time."
On Friday, the Warriors took a quick 2-0 lead.
Nikki Vanni converted a penalty kick to make it 1-0 in the fifth minute, squeezing a shot inside the left post past goalkeeper Amanda McDowell.
Two minutes later Kendra Miner got into open space and sent a low shot across the box from left to right, finding the far post. Amy Coonrod earned the assist.
West cut the lead in half in the 10th minute, poking the ball into an open net after Wasilla keeper Kamarae Kaina charged out of the net but failed to secure possession. It was West's sixth goal this season, Carpenter said.
"I was happy she didn't try to drill it," Carpenter said of the goal. "She just tapped it in, which is nice to see."
McDowell made a few nice saves to close the first half and remained stingy for the first part of the second as Wasilla controlled the ball.
In the 63rd minute, Vanni scored her second goal to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead.
Vanni sent a high shot toward the upper-right corner of the goal, and the ball grazed the crossbar before slipping past the outstretched arms of McDowell.
"That one kind of surprised her," Carpenter said.
Tromblee pulled the Panthers within 3-2 in the 69th minute, fighting off a defender at the mouth of the goal and toe-punting the ball under Kaina, who was in position for the save. Tromblee has six goals on the year, Carpenter said.
That, however, would be Skyview's last scoring opportunity.
Wasilla coach Amber Craig said Skyview played a gritty match, true to the scouting reports she received before the contest.
"Every coach I talked to said Skyview plays a full 80 minutes, and it's true," Craig said. "They are a fun team to play."
Carpenter admitted Wasilla was the more polished club, passing with efficiency and setting up scoring chances by dominating possession.
The Panthers kept the score close by hustling to loose balls and closing in quickly when Wasilla had possession.
"It works," Craig said of the scrappy approach. "That's tough to play against."
Wasilla boys 14, Skyview 0
The Warriors opened a nine-goal lead at halftime in dismantling the host Panthers in Northern Lights Conference play Friday.
Izaak Probasco and Rell Sturdevant scored two goals apiece as 10 different players scored for Wasilla (8-4-2 overall), which dominated possession and didn't allow a shot on goal. On Saturday, the Panthers lost to Houston 6-0.
"I have a lot of respect for the way Skyview played," Wasilla coach Blake Livingston said. "They displayed some resilience and never gave up."
Yet it was impossible to ignore the disparity in talent. Rarely did the ball cross over midfield into the Warriors defensive side. Never did the Panthers have a reasonable chance to score.
Wasilla (9-4-2 overall) opened the scoring in the third minute on a left-footed strike from Cameron Perry. In the fifth, Austin Frizzelle bent a left-footed shot inside the far post off a free kick from the right wing. Four minutes later, Kyle Welton took a long through ball on the left and finished from close range.
A trio of goals over the next 10 minutes made it 6-0 before back-to-back strikes off the foot of Sturdevant made it 8-0. Abe Fox tallied the Warriors' ninth point in the 40th minute.
Skyview coach Rustin Hitchcock used three goalkeepers over the final 40 minutes, but it didn't matter. Wasilla scored five times in the first 13 minutes of the second half.
"I was pleased with the way the guys worked the ball around and shared," Livingston said. "They were unselfish so it's hard to single out any players."
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