The Grace Christian soccer teams left Nikiski’s sodden field Friday afternoon with a pair of nonconference victories, winning the girls game 6-0 and the boys 4-2.
On a day that began with rain, moved to snow and ended in bright sunlight, the Bulldogs had to deal with all the elements, including Grace’s waves of offense.
Jamin Belise scored twice to lift the Grizzlies boys to the win after Nikiski took a second-half lead. Belise opened the scoring with a goal 25 minutes into the first half, but Nikiski answered with Luck Broussard’s strike just two minutes into the second frame with help on a through ball from Mason Payne.
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute thanks to Shane Weathers’ cross from the outside corner of the box.
However, the lead didn’t last long. Grace tied it at 58 minutes with Belise’s second goal of the game, then took the lead at 64 minutes on a goal from Paul Kopp, who took advantage of a Nikiski defensive miscommunication.
“They played hard the first 10 minutes of the half, but after that just went back to sleep,” said Nikiski boys head coach Harrison Deveer. “(Grace) wanted it more, they wanted the 50-50 balls more.”
Miles Bellager scored an insurance goal for Grace just five minutes after taking the lead, which held up in the final 11 minutes of regulation.
On a rare spring day in late April that saw snowflakes, the natural grass Nikiski field ended up a soggy slip-and-slide by the end of the boys game. The wintry weather got to be enough that the sidelines had to be shoveled at halftime of the boys contest in order for the lines to be seen.
“We had crappy weather to start with,” Deveer said. “So this was a good test for us.”
In the girls game, Kim Schaezlein notched two first-half goals to send the Grizzlies to a shutout victory. Grace led 4-0 at halftime before icing the win in the second half.
Nikiski head coach Linda Zimmerman credited her team for keeping up the pace through miserably cold conditions.
“This weather was horrid,” she said. “This has been the weirdest weather for soccer that I can ever remember.
“But it is what it is.”
Schaezlein opened the scoring 13 minutes in for Grace. India Otto tallied a 16th-minute score and was quickly followed up by Amy Hatter just one minute later to make it 3-0.
Schaezlein scored her second of the game in the 30th minute to send the Grizzlies to the halftime break up four goals.
In the second half, Grace got goals from Maddy Morgan in the 50th minute and Abigail Beveridge in the 65th.
Zimmerman praised Jordyn Stock’s efforts up front for Nikiski, along with Shelby Baylie and Emma Wik in the middle. Abby Bystedt also stood strong in net.
Seward girls 2, Nikiski 0
The visiting Seahawks improved to 2-1 in the conference and 2-2 overall by blanking the Bulldogs.
Rose Terry had both of the goals for Seward, while Makaira Williams kept the clean sheet in the goal.
Nikiski coach Linda Zimmerman said that although the result was a loss, she is happy that her team continues to improve.
“The thing I told them coming off the field is not to be ashamed and hold their heads high because this is probably the best game of soccer they’ve had,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said captains Ashlee Tiner, Emma Wik and Melanie Sexton did a good job keeping spirits up. America Jeffreys, Jordyn Stock and Deidra Lamping created good opportunities on offense, while Aspen Hooper and Hannah Young were solid on defense. Zimmerman added that Abby Bystedt continues to show improvement in goal.
Seward boys 3, Nikiski 0
The visiting Seahawks shut out the Bulldogs in Peninsula Conference action to move to 2-1-1 overall and 1-1 in the league.
Senior Case Estes had all three goals for Seward, netting two early and adding another late. Junior Brendan McMurray had the shutout in net.
Nikiski coach Harrison Deveer, whose team fell to 0-4 in the league and overall, said his team had a lot of possession in Seward’s end, but was not able to turn that into goals. Deveer also was not happy that Seward won nearly all of the 50-50 balls.