The Kenai boys are still searching for their first state tournament victory.
After 80 minutes of scoreless soccer at the Anchorage Football Stadium on Wednesday, West High netted the game-winner with roughly three minutes remaining in the first 10-minute overtime, propelling the Eagles into the semifinals of the ASAA State Soccer Championships while the Kardinals advance into the consolation bracket for the fourth time since 2000.
“It was a good day for Kenai soccer,” said Kardinals’ coach David Landry. “It would have been nice to come away with the W. They’re all disappointed with the result, but they don’t need to be ashamed of the effort.”
Prior to praising nearly every member of his team, Landry said a West player crossed the ball from deep in the left corner, placing it near the 6-yard line where another Eagles’ player poked it in for the game-winner.
“We had a lot of one-and-two-touch chances of our own and opportunities to put that ball in,” he said, adding both squads had goals called back in the first half, West’s due to an offside penalty and Kenai’s because of a hand ball. “We had some good chances but we just didn’t put enough shots on goal to get them too nervous.”
He did say, though, that the Eagles appeared frustrated as the game wore on.
“We had West very concerned,” Landry said. “You could tell about halfway through the second half, even at the end of the first half, their heads were just down.
“They were starting to cramp up and they were getting tired,” he added. “They were just drained because they weren’t expecting such a battle.”
Kenai keeper Justin Wisniewski was the player of the game, according to Landry, who also commended his defenders for slowing down West’s offense.
“Those guys were so solid,” he said. “They just never let those guys get on track.”
Wasilla boys 4, Soldotna 0
The Stars are also still looking for their first state victory after they were unable to find the back of the net in an opening-round game against the Warriors.
Wasilla converted on a penalty shot in the ninth minute and carried a 2-0 lead into halftime.
“We just didn’t come out real well after that initial goal,” said SoHi coach Jeff Siemers.
It was the Warriors’ third victory this season over the Stars, the first a 4-0 triumph in the second game of the year and the next a 3-1 win in the Northern Lights Conference tournament semifinals.
“They played well,” Siemers said. “It’s the same team we played and lost to the two other times. They’ve been able to be the better team those days and they did it again.”
Either Kenai (9-3-3) or Soldotna (11-3) will finally earn its first state tournament win today when the rivals square off at 8 a.m. for a berth in Saturday’s fourth-place contest.
“It’s too bad that one of the teams from the peninsula can go on and the other one has to stay,” Siemers said. “It would be nice if we could both progress through.”
Landry also isn’t pleased with the impending rematch with the Stars, but not because the Kardinals lost 5-1 to them earlier this season.
“That really stinks because part of this state business is getting against teams you won’t see again,” he explained. “It’s kind of too bad that if either one of us is going to get our first win it has to come against the other at the cost of peninsula soccer.”
But at the same time, both coaches will take a win.
“Our ambition and our goal is to take care of that loss they planted on us and try and get that one back,” Landry said.
“We’re going to play who the brackets give us,” Siemers said. “We like the peninsula teams but we definitely want to win.”
Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Homer girls begin their quest for a state title today with a 2 p.m. tilt against fourth-seeded Juneau.
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