The Soldotna girls and Homer boys soccer teams claimed victories Tuesday at Soldotna High School, with both games ending at 2-1.
The matches did not count for Northern Lights Conference Southern Division play because the teams will meet again in Homer on April 19. Soldotna opened its season Tuesday, while the Homer boys are now 2-0 and the Homer girls are 0-2.
In the girls game, freshman Eve Brau gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead when she broke free and scored with five minutes left in the first half.
“Like I told the girls after the game, don’t think for one second I don’t feel you played well,” Homer coach Mike Tozzo said. “We wanted to get one goal and then keep them scoreless. Except for a couple of mistakes, we did that.”
Abi Tuttle would lead the Stars back in the second half. Midway through the half, she converted on a cross from Journey Miller. Then with just under four minutes to play the Stars earned a penalty kick and Tuttle converted it for the victory.
Until then, Homer goalie Ali McCarron had turned aside four or five golden opportunities in the last 15 minutes of the game.
“Their keeper played a heck of a game,” Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said. “She came out and stopped three or four point-blank shots in every half.”
Tozzo said McCarron had 22 saves Tuesday and now has almost 50 in just under two games.
“That’s good and bad,” he said. “It shows she’s playing well, but it also shows a lot of passes are getting through and there’s a lot of shots off of them.”
Love said his team’s communication and shooting need improvement. He said the Stars possessed the ball well in the midfield, but not in the front and back thirds of the field. He said Miller did a good job taking corner kicks, but the team did not finish them.
“One person and one position didn’t stick out, and that’s the way it should be,” Love said. “It shows the team is functioning as a unit.”
Love also said Abby Kruse, a senior, was solid in her debut in goal. Love said, that as far as he knows, Kruse hadn’t played in a soccer game before Tuesday.
Tozzo said his team had just one player on the bench, so the play of his freshmen was encouraging. Brau is a freshman, as is Daisy Kettle, who drew the unenviable task of marking the ever-dangerous Tuttle. Tozzo also said freshman Jamie Parish played well.
“If the young kids keep stepping up, we’ll be in good shape,” he said.
Homer boys 2, Soldotna 1
The Stars fell behind 2-0, then didn’t start their comeback until going down one player with 20 minutes left in the game.
Homer grabbed a 1-0 lead with five minutes to play in the first half when Oliver Beck banged in a free kick off the Soldotna wall.
The Mariners stretched the advantage to 2-0 10 minutes into the second half when Beck found freshman Daniel Reutov for a goal.
With 20 minutes to play, Benjamin Godfrey of Soldotna was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. But that only spurred on the Stars, as Eli Sheridan hit freshman Alex Montague with a through ball for a goal with two minutes left. But Homer goalie Kenzington Cortez was able to hold the fort after that.
Homer coach Warren Waldorf said his biggest takeaway from the game was how well his freshmen held up.
Soldotna coach Darryl Byerley had a similar take on freshmen Montague, Eli Wackler, Cameron Johnson and Brayden Vanmeter. The coach also said Sam McElroy was solid at defensive midfield.
“There were a lot of positives for us,” Byerley said. “We have to build on those positives for the rest of the season.”