The Kenai Central High School girls soccer team’s return to the state tournament was an eye-opener as the Kardinals dropped their opening game 5-0 to Dimond at Anchorage Football Stadium.
Kenai will play West Valley, a 2-1 loser to Juneau-Douglas, in the consolation bracket today at 8 a.m.
“(Dimond) was definitely a better team. If you’re going to lose I’d have hated to thought we should’ve beaten them and lost,” said Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen.
Verkuilen said Dimond was a highly skilled team, with more than half the players on the field at any time able to create opportunities dribbling the ball. The Lynx were up 4-0 at the half, but Verkuilen said his team never gave in.
“We were able to make some adjustments and held them to one goal in the second half, Verkuilen said.
Verkuilen said Kenai’s best chance came on a breakaway in the second half, but Keeley Boyle was taken down from behind in the penalty area without a call.
“The girls never quit. They never hung their heads. They went hard to the whistle. They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Verkuilen said.
Verkuilen said his team would be ready to go for today’s match.
“They didn’t take losing 5-0 well, on the other hand, they couldn’t look at each other and say, ‘We didn’t do this or that.’ We got beat by a better team, and we’ll learn from that,” Verkuilen said.
A win in today’s game would put the Kardinals through to the fourth-place match Saturday at 8 a.m. where they would face Palmer, the team they beat in the Northern Lights Conference championship game; a loss would bump them from the double-elimination tournament.
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