With wins on Thursday, Soldotna and Kenai Central's girls advance to the Northern Lights Conference semifinals today at the Kenai Sports Complex. SoHi, which blanked Palmer 6-0, takes on Colony, which beat Nikiski 3-1, at 11 a.m. After a 7-1 victory over Grace Christian, Kenai takes on Wasilla at 3 p.m. The Warriors downed Skyview 4-0.
Friday's winners move on to the championship, which will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. The losers face off in the third-place game at 10 a.m. The top three teams earn berths to the state tournament.
Kardinals 7, Grizzlies 1
Taylor Matson and Taylor Ostrander each had a pair of goals to lead Kenai past Grace. Ostrander scored in the 10th and 12th minutes to give the Kards a quick 2-0 lead.
Grace answered back with a goal by Madison Lash in the 24th minute.
Matson tapped in a cross from Jenna Calhoun in the 34th minute to regain a two-goal cushion. Calhoun struck late in the half to give Kenai a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Calhoun got to a rebound off a shot from Allie McGahan and chipped the ball from the left into the right side of the net.
Kards head coach Dan Verkuilen said this was the most decisive win in the first round of the NLC tourney since he's been coaching.
He said the conference tournament is great experience for his young team, which is mostly made up of underclassmen.
"You can't reproduce this type of competition in the regular season," Verkuilen said.
Kenai was able to stay disciplined on the larger fields, and not just play kick and run, Verkuilen said. The fields are about 115 yards long and 75 yards wide, making them among the largest on the Kenai Peninsula.
"They allowed themselves to stay in position," Verkuilen said of his team.
Verkuilen said he loves playing on the larger field.
"It allows you to play soccer," he said. "There's actual room to pass and room to play."
Verkuilen said Kenai is starting to lose its fear of contact, and it showed during the game.
"They did a great job of winning the 50-50 balls today," he said. "I think the girls have new confidence."
The best part of the victory is it gives Kenai a chance to go to state, Verkuilen said.
"The exciting part is you're only one win away," he said.
But the Kards will have to face top-seeded Wasilla. The Warriors defeated Kenai 4-1 earlier this season.
Stars 6, Moose 0
Five different players scored goals to lead the Stars past the Moose. Kaili Sholin led her team with two tallies. Emily Rohloff, Phoebe Napolitano, Casey Coupchiak and Christina Tachick also scored.
"I loved how the girls played today," Stars head coach Mike Tovoli said. "It was the best we've played all year."
Though happy with the victory, it takes three wins to claim the NLC title, he said.
"One win does nothing for us," Tovoli said. "We need to come out with the same intensity tomorrow."
SoHi plays Colony in the semifinals today. The Stars notched a 1-0 victory over the Knights earlier this season.
Warriors 4, Panthers 0
Four different players scored to lead Wasilla past Skyview. Reace Morrison started the game off fast with a goal in the first minute. Sharon Koss gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead at the half.
Mikaela Hull and Rachel Kennedy added second-half tallies to round out the scoring.
Knights 3, Bulldogs 1
Sara Kenley scored in the seventh minute and Ali Baker scored in the 23rd minute to give Colony a 2-0 lead at halftime. Each team had a goal in the second half. Jessica Farell scored for the Knights and Hillary Bogard scored for Nikiski.
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