PALMER -- Soldotna head coach Mike Tovoli is still looking for his team to put in a full 80 minutes.
The Stars were pretty close Saturday.
Soldotna scored a 3-0 win over Colony during the title game of the Northern Lights Conference Championships at Colony High School. SoHi wins its third title in four years.
"It hasn't happened this region tournament yet, or I should say all season long," Tovoli said. "This region tournament, the first game we didn't put together anything against Grace and we scratched by. Yesterday we put together 40 minutes worth of soccer (against Wasilla). Today, I believe we put together about 70 minutes of soccer, which is a much better effort."
Jordann Nelson, T'essa Tovoli and Julie Litchfield each scored in the win to help Soldotna win its second straight NLC title.
"They all really came to play today," Tovoli said. "I really give them credit for not getting down on themselves."
Soldotna goalkeeper Rebecca Satathite and the Stars also recorded their third straight shutout of the three-day tourney, and seventh overall. Soldotna beat Grace Christian and Wasilla 1-0 during the first two rounds, before the win over Colony.
"It's a great accomplishment," Tovoli said. "I can't give enough credit to my goalkeeper. I can't give enough credit to all my girls. All my girls in back worked their butts off."
Tovoli said the Stars certainly operate with a defense-first philosophy. He gave credit to Kaili Sholin and Kaityln Van Meter for their work in the middle of the field.
"My biggest thing, our biggest thing on this team, we play defense from our forwards to the back," Tovoli said. "There's no one person that does not play defense for me, or they don't play."
While Tovoli was pleased about his team's 70-minute effort. Colony head coach Lorie Miner said the Knights faded after falling behind, and struggled to get things going.
"The girls even said so," Miner said. "When the first goal was scored on us, their heads went down and they were out of the game."
Nelson provided that first Soldotna score in the 29th minute. Van Meter sent a cross from the left side of the field to Nelson, who knocked the ball inside the far post.
At the end of the first half, Soldotna pushed its lead to a pair of goals with a T'essa Tovoli score. Freshman Kylee Wolfe crossed the ball from the left to help set up the score.
Litchfield capped the scoring in the third, with a goal in the 59th minute. Erica Byerly fed a ball through to Litchfield, who drove into the penalty box to set up a short breakaway. Tovoli also gave credit to Phoebe Napolitano for strong work at forward.
The championship contest was physical. Late in the contest, a Soldotna player collided with Colony goalkeeper Jaden Chew. The CHS freshman keeper was forced out of the game after the contact.
Wasilla 1, Kenai 0, OT (Third place)
Amber Craig loves her team, but sometimes she can't help but wonder why her Wasilla Warriors wait until overtime to play their best soccer.
Wasilla used a goal early in the first overtime to edge the Kenai Kardinals 1-0 in the third-place match of the Northern Lights Conference Championships at Colony High School on Saturday morning. The win means Wasilla goes to state and Kenai's season ends.
"I kind of told them, do we have to go into overtime for you guys to get that we all have to go out there and be intense," Craig said. "I love this team, this is a fun team, but sometimes they kind of play to the level that the other team plays at. Kenai wasn't necessarily playing an intense style of game. It was the same against Nikiski.
"But they rise to the competition."
But after a scoreless 80 minutes, something clicked for the Warriors during extra time. Sophomore Caitlyn Butcher sent a cross from the right side during the first overtime, and seniors Amy Jo Coonrod and Reace Morrison provided the push to force the loose ball into the net and supply the Warriors with the game-winner.
Neither Craig or Coonrod knew exactly who had the final touch before the ball met the back of the net, but Craig praised the efforts of both seniors on the play.
After Butcher sent a sharp cross from the right side, Kenai goalkeeper Sidney Thomas got her hands on the ball, but wasn't able to hold possession. Coonrod came in to get a touch, and Morrison also crashed before the ball popped into the net.
Craig said her team also started shooting the ball during overtime.
"In the last 20 minutes everyone wanted the goal, and that's when we started getting opportunities," Craig said.
Coonrod, senior Ashlynn Frizzelle and senior Lina Shadrach also had quality chances in overtime.
Coonrod lifted a shot just high of the net during the 92nd minute. Frizzelle, coming up from the right side, pushed a shot just beyond the far post in the 94th. Later in the second overtime, Shadrach fired a shot from the left side just beyond the right post.
Wasilla earned the NLC's final state tournament berth with the win, and had to do so without junior Nikki Vanni, the 2010 NLC Player of the Year.
Kenai Central coach Dan Verkuilen said his squad had a few golden chances to score in the second half. Jenna Calhoun sent a left-footed shot toward the net, but Wasilla's keeper got a hand on it.
Also in the second half, junior Lauren Schams sent a header high toward the net, but again the shot was saved. Verkuilen said his team got tired in overtime.
"We had a lot of good efforts in the second half," Verkuilen said by phone Saturday. "By the time it got to overtime, our legs were sort of shot."
Vanni, an anchor in the Wasilla midfield, was seriously injured during a semifinal loss to Soldotna and had to be hospitalized overnight Friday.
Craig said medical officials were concerned about an injury to her liver.
"She got knocked down a couple of times and the last time she pretty much got kneed right underneath her ribs," Craig said.
Vanni was released from the hospital Saturday morning, but will be out of action for at least six weeks. Craig said Vanni's teammates stepped up in the absence.
"The girls knew they'd have to make adjustments," Craig said. "Today we changed the lineup a lot."
Craig moved Frizzelle into the midfield to help run the show. The Warriors also moved Brook Morgan to the offensive end to help provide a spark.
"We brought her up top for a while. She's real offensive-minded," Craig said.
Soldotna 1, Wasilla 0
PALMER - Soldotna scored in the first minute and held on for a 1-0 semifinal win over Wasilla on Friday. The goal came from Sydney Goggia.
Colony 2, Kenai 0
PALMER -- Junior Brittney Anderson scored twice during a six-minute stretch to lead the Colony Knights to a 2-0 win over the Kenai Kardinals during the NLC semifinals Friday.
Senior Jamie Krediet sent a ball through the midfield to set up Anderson's first score during the 23rd minute. In the 26th minute, Anderson took an Ali Baker cross from the right side to score.
Girls NLC Player of Year: Kaili Sholin, Soldotna
Girls NLC Coach of Year: Mandy Adair, Nikiski.
Girls NLC first team
Katelyn Houston, Grace; Ashlynn Frizzelle, Wasilla; Nikki Vanni, Wasilla; Shelby Toombs, Wasilla; Kendra Miner, Wasilla; Alicia West, Skyview; Tamlyn Silva, Skyview; Angie Parrish, Nikiski; Kendal Venzke, Palmer; Megan Stark, Palmer; Jamie Krediet, Colony; Brittney Anderson, Colony; Kaitlyn Van Meter, Soldotna.
Girls NLC Second team
Erin Muray, Wasilla; Sage Allen Grace; Cassie Ross, Kenai; Allie McGahan, Kenai; Nicole Tromblee, Sky; Brittany Tuttle, Nikiski; Elliot Perkins, Palmer; Miracle Burton, Palmer; Ashley James, Colony; Jaeden Chew, Colony; Rebecca Satathite, Soldotna; Kylee Wolfe, Soldotna; Julie Litchfield, Soldotna.
NLC boys title: Wasilla 2, Grace Christian 1
third-place: Colony 6, Palmer 1
NLC boys semifinals: Wasilla 4, Colony 2
Grace 4, Palmer 1
Boys co-POY: Paul Sliwa, Wasilla; Jordan Edwards, Grace.
Boys COY: Jeremy Johnson, Colony.
Boys NLC first team
Tyler Houston, Grace; John Weber, Grace; Daniel Fullmer, Grace; James Meaney, Colony; Hunter Fisher, Colony; Matt Kelly, Colony; Eli Tingstad, Wasilla; Avery Palchikoff, Kenai; Stefan Krogseng, Nikiski; Logan Basner, Colony; Daniel Burton, Palmer; Robin Glosser, Homer.
Boys second team
Cameron Perry, Wasilla; Kyler Perry, Wasilla; Travis Patterson, Wasilla; Turner Rodgers, Grace; Bryce Rodgers, Grace; John Meaney, Colony; Kyle Wisner, Homer; Konstantin Reutov, Homer; Cory Carver, Soldotna; Tate Syverson, Soldotna; Dawson Pearson, Soldotna; Auberin Strickland, Palmer.
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