Kenai Central’s Brynnen Hanson dribbles against Grace Christian’s Josie Evans-Grant on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Brynnen Hanson dribbles against Grace Christian’s Josie Evans-Grant on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Friday: Kenai girls soccer topples Grace

Kate Wisnewski netted a hat trick as the host Kenai Central girls soccer team notched a 6-1 nonconference victory over Grace Christian on Friday.

The Kardinals move to 2-0-1 overall, while the Grizzlies fell to 0-4.

On a windy day in which the Kardinals had the wind in the second half, Kenai showed off some impressive shots from the midfield.

Three of Kenai’s goals came from about 30 yards out, while the others were from just outside the penalty area.

Kenai head coach Dan Verkuilen said the team practiced shooting in practice this week and it paid off.

“The kids are starting to work with each other in that middle,” he said. “They’re starting to get used to each other again, so you saw some really nice passes inside that midfield triangle.”

The coach said most of the work came from center midfielders Kylee Verkuilen and Sarah Baisden, stopper Wisnewski and center forward Brynnen Hanson.

“When we start penetrating with that type of movement, then we can lay the ball back and get those longer shots,” coach Verkuilen said. “We’ve got the legs this year for that.”

Kylee Verkuilen started the scoring in the 29th minute, brushing the ball just inside the left post and past goalie Greta Faignant from just outside the box.

One minute later, Hanson — who hit the post twice in the first half — set up Baisden for a 30-yard goal.

The Grizzlies were able to cut the gap to 2-1 in the 37th minute. Camila Bost, who made dangerous runs for Grace all game, charged Kenai keeper Maddie Malone as she attempted to clear the ball.

The ball hit Bost in the face and rolled into the goal. Bost sat injured on the field for a minute and missed the rest of the first half, but came back for the second half.

Grace coach Jeff Schaezlein, who also liked the play of freshman Abigail Clark on the attack, said Bost had a bloody lip. The coach said the Grizzlies have yet to hold one practice on their outdoor field, which is the snow-covered Anchorage Football Stadium.

In the second half, the Kardinals, and particularly the strong shot of Wisnewski, took advantage of the wind.

In the 51st minute, Wisnewski took a free kick into the wall. The ball bounced back to her and she scored from 30 yards out.

Just three minutes later, Verkuilen scored from just outside the box, assisted by Hanson.

Schaezlein said Sonya Chriest drew the task of trying to slow down Verkuilen and did a good job.

“We knew Kylee was going to be a problem for us,” Schaezlein said. “Obviously, she’s been a good player for years.

“We knew they would funnel a lot of their play through her. You’re not going to stop her, we tried to control her and make the other players beat us.”

In the 56th minute, Baisden set up Wisnewski from just outside the box, then Wisnewski finished the scoring and her hat trick from 30 yards out in the 70th minute.

Coach Verkuilen said Tait Cooper also had a nice game at outside midfield. The coach also said it was great to see Chloe Grimm on the field again. Grimm had knee surgery during the season last year and made her debut Friday.

Kenai Central’s Kate Wisnewski heads the ball wide of the net Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Kate Wisnewski heads the ball wide of the net Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Grace Christian defender Caroline Wuerch and goalie Greta Faignant combine to keep the ball out of the net against Kenai Central on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Grace Christian defender Caroline Wuerch and goalie Greta Faignant combine to keep the ball out of the net against Kenai Central on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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