Kenai freshman Riley McKee hounds Dimond defender Kyle Stone during Friday's state soccer semifinal at Bartlett High in Anchorage. Dimond won 3-0.

Kenai freshman Riley McKee hounds Dimond defender Kyle Stone during Friday's state soccer semifinal at Bartlett High in Anchorage. Dimond won 3-0.

Kenai boys take program-best 5th at state soccer

The Kenai Central boys soccer squad made history Thursday by claiming the program’s first state tournament victory, a 1-0 triumph over conference opponent Homer.

You would think the Kardinals would be content playing with house money. Not the case.

Kenai coach Joel Reemtsma had his team preparing for what he hoped would be a championship berth, but against a high-powered Dimond Lynx squad, the Kards fell in Friday’s semifinal matchup 3-0. Dimond went on to beat South 1-0 in Saturday’s championship.

The Kardinals then fell to Juneau-Douglas 3-2 in Saturday’s third-place match at Bartlett to finish the season 10-7-2.

“I’m pleased, but not satisfied,” Reemtsma said. “We had our eyes on that championship game, and we believed we could win, and I still believe it was doable.”

Colin O’Hare scored a pair of goals in the first half that made the difference for Dimond.

Wren Norwood, a senior co-captain of the team and state all-tournament honoree, was named player of the game for Kenai, and moments before was substituted off the pitch to a rousing applause from the Kenai faithful in the crowd, a crowd to which Reemtsma sent out a heartfelt thanks for their unwavering support.

“It’s extremely important, this is four years in the making,” Norwood said. “I came to this school thinking, my brother (Barry Norwood) was on the team the last time Kenai went to state, so making history yesterday, it was great.”

Norwood leads the Kards with consistent calls from the goal that keep his team on target and in correct positioning. His guidance was needed big time on Friday.

Dimond struck early, using quick, crisp passing to catch Norwood off guard and slip in a goal in the game’s second minute.

“It’s a good team, that was a great cross to the box,” Norwood said. “That’s really hard to defend, especially since they were making a great run up there. Most of these guys are full-year soccer players, so it’s tough to defend against them.”

O’Hare notched another goal in the 27th minute, using a series of tricky stutter-steps to fool the Kenai defense and send a blast down the middle and into the netting.

Holding a 2-0 lead at halftime, Dimond continued the onslaught on Kenai, getting numerous shots on goal that were being turned away by Norwood time and again. The Lynx peppered the Kenai goalie with shot after shot for over 15 minutes into the second half, but after all that pressure, it was a set play that finally scored. Robert Schock blasted a free kick from 35 yards out that made its way into the net for a third Dimond goal that effectively drained all drama out the match.

“He’s scored like that before in games, so we knew he could do it,” said Dimond coach Barat Killian. “Jack wanted the free kick, and we said, hey let Rob take it, and Jack’s pretty humble about it.”

Killian said he could not think of a better scenario to present to the team’s 14 outgoing seniors.

Juneau boys 3, Kenai 2

Kenai took fifth place with the loss, the best finish in program history.

“I think we showed we belong with the top teams in the state,” Reemtsma said. “It wasn’t a fluke, a one-off. It’s not that we were lucky to draw Homer.

“We were a hair’s breadth from drawing even with Juneau and earning the third-place spot.”

Max Dye staked the Kardinals to a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. The Juneau goalie handled the ball just outside the box after some tough dribbling from Kevin Ramos, and Dye responded with a marvelous free kick.

“He bent it around the wall into the upper right corner,” Reemtsma said. “It was a top-notch free kick.”

Juneau’s Treyson Ramos would score a minute later to tie the game, then Juneau’s Antonio Hafferty found the back of the net in the 33rd minute.

Reemtsma said the Kards were not done celebrating when Juneau scored its first goal, then that goal took the wind out of their sails. The Crimson Bears went up 3-1 in the 61st minute on a goal by Ryan Hoover.

Marshall Vest scored six minutes later for the Kards to cut the lead to 3-2. Vest nodded in a header on a cross.

“The last 13 minutes was all Kenai,” Reemtsma said. “We had a lot of chances.”

The game ended with Kenai set to take a corner kick, which is pretty much unheard of in soccer.

Reemtsma said senior defender Jake Eubank was a warrior for the team, slipping in games between tryouts for the Kenai River Brown Bears, and playing Saturday despite a bloody nose.

Senior Wren Norwood was solid in net, while Nate Saavedra was player of the game, and Austin McKee was all over the midfield.

“We’re very encouraged with the way the young guys stepped up,” Reemtsma said. “Even some sophomores and juniors that didn’t see a lot of time did some improving.

“We feel we’re going to be back at the state tournament.”

Reemtsma said he was extremely fortunate to get support from the players, administrators, coaches in his first year coaching varsity.

Bartlett boys 2, Homer 1, OT

The Mariners lost out in the consolation side of the bracket Friday evening at Eagle River High School, ending their state run on the spot with a 7-8-3 overall record.

The Golden Bears took advantage of the sudden-death format in the third overtime period, the first of two golden-goal periods of five minutes in length. The two periods were preceded by two 10-minute overtime periods that always go the distance, whether or not a team scores.

Homer, which won the sportsmanship award at state, finishes seventh after taking fourth in 2012 and third in 2014.

Bartlett would fall 3-0 to Colony in the fourth-place game.

Kenai senior Austin McKee plays the ball forward in the second half of Friday's state soccer semifinal at Bartlett High in Anchorage. Dimond won 3-0.

Kenai senior Austin McKee plays the ball forward in the second half of Friday’s state soccer semifinal at Bartlett High in Anchorage. Dimond won 3-0.

More in Sports

Allie McLaughlin sets the new record at the women's Mount Marathon Race on July 4, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Colorado’s McLaughlin smashes Forsberg’s record at Mount Marathon

Oregon’s King becomes race’s oldest winner

Peninsula Oilers starter Carson Seeman delivers to the Mat-Su Miners on Sunday, July 3, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Oilers drop Saturday, Sunday, Monday contests to Miners

The Peninsula Oilers continue to be in games, but can’t find a… Continue reading

People in an inflatable kayak fish off the end of the Homer Spit on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Reeling ‘Em In: Fishing gets exciting with snagging opener

Southern Peninsula fishing reports and updates for the week of June 28

tease
Oilers take down Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 8-5 in Alaska Baseball League… Continue reading

Hannah Lafleur of Seward defends her title in the women’s Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Full Mount Marathon party is back on in Seward

The Mount Marathon Race in Seward is back and better than ever… Continue reading

tease
Miners hold off Oilers

The Mat-Su Miners held off the Peninsula Oilers 3-2 in Alaska Baseball… Continue reading

Post 20 Twins catcher Jacob Belger flies out against the Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits at the Bill Miller/Lance Coz Wood Bat Tournament on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
River Bandits topple Twins for wood bat title

Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits general manager Randy Bachman has been… Continue reading

Anna and I in Seward, Alaska, on June 9, 2022 after waiting in Cooper Landing for almost three hours.
Out of the Office: Time well spent

There really only seem to be two seasons in Alaska: winter season… Continue reading

Most Read