The Homer girls soccer team has had about enough of the touch, and the feel, of Cotton.
Dimond freshman Lydia Cotton had a hat trick Thursday to lead the Lynx to a 5-0 victory over Homer at Wasilla High School in the opening round of the state soccer tournament.
The Lynx move on to a semifinal match against Region III champ Colony today at 6 p.m. at Colony High School, while Homer falls into the fourth-place bracket and will face Chugiak at 2 p.m. at Wasilla.
Homer was making its first appearance at the state soccer tournament, and Cotton immediately set about giving the Mariners an introduction to the festivities that was anything but soft and fluffy.
Three minutes into the game, she looped a shot just under the crossbar and just over the outstretched hand of Homer goalie Chaunna Dietz. Just eight minutes later, Cotton had the Lynx up 2-0 after an assist by Angie Faber.
"We certainly didn't play as well in this game as we did at regions," said Homer coach Mickey Todd, whose side took second at the Region III tournament. "We came out with our tails between our legs. We were apprehensive.
"But we played better in the second half."
In the 18th minute, Dimond's Faber scored the first of her two goals of the match on an assist from Mary Pearce.
After that, the Mariners settled in a bit. Todd liked the contributions he got off his bench. Plus, Dietz started to make some nice saves while players like midfielder Syverine Abrahamson and defender Libby Bushell began to figure out Dimond's style of play.
"A lot of the Anchorage teams are playing together year-round, while a lot of peninsula teams play together for two months," Todd said. "The telling difference is in the first touch on the ball.
"The first touch for Anchorage teams has purpose and direction. On our first touch, we're just trying to control the ball. The first touch is everything in soccer."
Cotton finished off her hat trick when she scored on a free kick in the 58th minute. Faber finished off the scoring for Dimond with an unassisted goal in the 78th minute.
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