Homer girls, Kenai boys soccer lose in state semis

Both the Kenai boys and Homer girls came up a game short of the Division II state soccer final Friday in Anchorage.

The Kardinals lost 4-0 to Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kale at Service High School, while the Mariners lost 1-0 to Grace Christian at West Anchorage.

The Kenai boys play Grace Christian for third place today at 9 a.m. at Service. The Kardinals are 0-3 against the Grizzlies this season.

The Mariners girls play North Pole for third place at 9:45 a.m. today at West Anchorage. The two teams have not played this season.

Also Friday, the Soldotna girls defeated Kenai 2-1 at West to move to the fourth-place game. Soldotna plays Ketchikan at 9:45 a.m. at Eagle River, while Kenai’s season is over.

The Soldotna boys also saw their season end Friday with a 1-0 loss to Ketchikan at Service.

Juneau boys 4, Kenai 0

The Kardinals (10-6-2) fell behind 1-0 25 minutes into the game.

“Whether you lose by one or by three or four, you still lose,” Kenai coach Shane Lopez said. “We had to throw numbers forward, and they’re a very good counterattacking team.”

The Crimson Bears put in a couple more goals before the end of the first half, then scored late in the second half on a set piece.

“Our guys played really well, despite the scoreline,” Lopez said.

The coach said Gavin Langham made some special saves in goal, while Koda Poulin played well at center back and Cole Langham, Sam Baisden and Joe Hamilton did well in the midfield.

Grace girls 1, Homer 0

The lone goal in the game came with 38 minutes left and the Mariners (12-6-2) eventually had their second 1-0 loss to the Grizzlies this season.

“Besides that one thing that happened, it was pretty much even,” Homer coach Mike Tozzo said. “We got a lot of opportunities in the first half, and we got some in the second half, we just couldn’t quite connect.”

Tozzo said both teams battled despite the heat.

“I was really super proud of all the kids, especially the seniors,” Tozzo said. “I’m excited to see them move on with whatever the next step is. It’s been a great season and I’ve enjoyed coaching them and being part of their lives.”

Soldotna girls 2, Kenai 1

The Stars (8-8-2 overall) defeated the Kardinals (9-7-2 overall) for the first time in five tries. The teams played to a pair of ties this season, while the Kardinals had a pair of one-goal victories.

Soldotna put a lot of pressure on Kenai from the outset, earning a lot of corner kicks. Soldotna coach Jimmy Love had not been happy with his team’s corner kicks, but that finally changed.

Midway through the first half, Jolie Widaman headed in a corner kick from Liberty Miller. Before the end of the first half, Widaman was scoring directly off a corner for a 2-0 lead.

Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said his midfield was struggling with some injuries.

“It was not the flow we really wanted and it took a half to get them going,” he said. “Give Soldotna credit. They played a really good game.”

Love was not comfortable with the 2-0 lead at half.

“It was a tough battle,” he said. “I was telling the girls at half not to think Kenai was going to lie down and roll over. There was more going on than just adding a day to the season. There was hometown stuff.”

Sure enough, Kenai got going in the second half and with about 12 minutes left, Chloe Goldsby drew a free kick and Kate Wisnewski smashed it into the net.

Love then said Kenai put on an onslaught on SoHi’s goal, but added the Stars also had some chances going the other way.

“Overall, the girls worked well together,” Love said. “It was a hot day, so we used a lot of subs.”

Verkuilen said Wisnewski was good on defense, while Kylie Verkuilen was great in the midfield, and Kori Moore and Rylie Sparks worked hard up front.

The state tournament again showed how tight the Peninsula Conference is. Last weekend, Kenai topped Homer and SoHi to win the conference title. At state, the Kards lost to both.

“We had a lot of youth out there and it looks good for the future,” Verkuilen said.

Ketchikan boys 1, Soldotna 0

The Stars finished their season at 6-9-1 with a loss in the fourth-place semifinals. It was SoHi’s second loss to Ketchikan this season.

The Kings scored near the end of the first half.

“They’re a good team,” Soldotna coach Erik Dolphin said. “They’ve got a lot of seniors and that experience showed again.

“We had our chances and dominated the majority of the second half, but we couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”

Dolphin said the Stars had several chances thud off the post, and added the Ketchikan goalie made several great saves.

He said defenders Collin Peck and Hamilton Hunt had great games, and Zac Buckbee created a lot of chances in the midfield.

Dolphin said a lot of freshmen and sophomores played in the game and the future of the program looks bright.

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