The Wasilla boys soccer team used two Paul Sliwa penalty kicks to defeat Soldotna on Thursday in the opening round of the Northern Lights Conference soccer tournament at Palmer.
For the second consecutive year, the Northern Division boys teams swept all four of the first-round games from the Southern Division.
After a scoreless first half, the Stars took the lead in the 46th minute when Cory Carver scored on an assist by Kayne North.
The Stars held the Warriors down until the final minute of the game, when Wasilla earned a penalty kick . SoHi coach Jeff Siemers said a player was breaking in on goalie Cody Vandehey when Vandehey was called for the foul. Sliwa converted the penalty kick. Siemers said there was no question that Vandehey took out the attacker. The question was whether Vandehey got the ball, as well.
The teams then played two 10-minute overtimes. In the last minute of the second overtime, a Wasilla attacker was tripped in the box. Sliwa again converted the penalty kick.
"It was hard to lose on two penalty kicks," Siemers said. "It was a well-fought game with lots of good opportunities for both teams, and lots of good defense."
Siemers said Tate Syverson and Daniel Koch were solid in the midfield. Defenders Dawson Pearson and Matt Fellman were pivotal in holding off Wasilla's attack for so long.
Grace boys 3, Nikiski 1
The Grizzlies held off the Bulldogs to move into Friday's semifinals.
Despite the loss and end of the season, Nikiski coach Jim Coburn was happy with the improvement his team showed. He said his team was blown out in a game earlier this year against the Grizzlies.
"We played a lot better game," Coburn said. "The seniors did well and some underclassmen really stepped up, which I'm pleased about."
Grace took a 1-0 lead at the half, then a 2-0 lead early in the second half. At the 60th minute, Stefan Krogseng converted a rebound off the goalie to cut the lead to 2-1. The Bulldogs, looking for their first victory in tourney history, fought for the equalizer, but Grace scored in the final minutes for the victory.
"We didn't finish when we needed to, so we were left on the short end," Coburn said.
The coach said Garret Fellar had a strong game at defense, concluding an impressive freshman season. Coburn also liked what he saw out of goalie Kaden Spurgeon.
Colony boys 7, Kenai Central 1
The Knights stormed the Kardinals with three goals in the first half and never looked back in advancing to Friday's semifinals.
Colony scored in the second, 10th and 39th minutes, Kenai Central coach David Landry said, and responded with four goals in the second half after the Kards cut the lead to 3-1 on a Josh McKee penalty kick in the 44th minute.
"Brutal," Landry said. "It was just a nasty, nasty, nasty game for the old Kardinals."
Colony defeated Kenai Central 3-0 during the regular season in a game in which the Knights were held scoreless over the final 40 minutes.
Landry said the second half of that match gave his squad confidence entering Thursday's contest.
But after the Knights notched a fourth goal about two minutes after McKee's penalty kick, the match unraveled on the Kards.
Landry stopped tracking the goals once Colony extended the lead to 4-1.
"By that time you're just about green," the coach said. "They played hard, they played with effort, but when you are a lower seed going against a higher seed, you can't make mental errors -- and that's exactly what we did."
Landry said he was disappointed for seniors Ben Gilman, James Watkins, Lee Blough, Avery Palchikoff and Jake Iverson. He added that the underclassmen must use the game as a learning experience if they plan on competing at a higher level next season.
"I thought this would be a team that would surprise the Dickens out of a few teams, but it didn't," Landry said, thanking the parents and those who supported the squad. "You couldn't ask for a better bunch of kids. Once they realize what they are capable of, they will meet the expectations the coaching staff has of them."
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