The superlative start to Kenai Central junior Tristan Landry’s career as starting varsity goaltender is no head scratcher once it’s revealed his father David Landry was a goalie for the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers major league teams in the mid-70s.
“It’s basically what I’ve been trained to do,” Tristan said Thursday at a breezy Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.
It appears the younger Landry paid attention to his old man’s advice.
Landry posted a 13-save shutout to lead the Kardinals to a 2-0 victory over Soldotna on Thursday to continue his unbeaten season as starting goalkeeper. In games against Homer, Eagle River and SoHi, Landry has yet to make a mistake and yet to allow a goal.
“Tristan has just been solid for us, and (Thursday) was his first game that he saw a lot of action,” said Kenai coach Joel Reemtsma. “A lot of SoHi’s shots were at a low angle, and he held them.”
Sophomore forward Luke Beiser scored in the second half to send Kenai on its way to victory, while an own goal by Soldotna started the scoring in the waning minutes of the first half.
Kenai improved to 3-0 to start the year, while SoHi saw its perfect season come to an end, dropping to 4-1 overall in 2016.
Landry preserved the shutout under intense pressure in the second half, as the Stars came at him in waves, working with desperate attempts to force an equalizer on Landry, but the training from his father, a former coach of the Kenai boys team, came into play.
“I get it from my dad,” Landry said. “He’s instilled it in me, and he makes me believe in myself.”
Prior to this year, Landry had not made a single varsity start for Kenai, and was tasked by Reemstma with filling the shoes of 2015 Kenai graduate Wren Norwood.
“Tristan has very good technique and good communication with his back line,” Reemstma said.
An even first half ended with a mistake by SoHi goalie Drew Kant, who moved out to grab a ball that was played back to him by teammate Ethan Bott. However, the ball slipped past Kant’s grasp and trickled into the net for a 1-0 Kenai lead with two minutes left on the clock.
SoHi coach Darryl Byerley concluded that the Stars were not possessing the ball as well as he was hoping, instead opting to take big shots down the field, a factor that held them scoreless.
“We were overanxious today,” Byerley said. “We had no time to pass and were trying to take one big bite, instead of little bitty bites.”
In the second half, the Stars worked hard for a tying goal, but Landry remained firm, making a high grab on a corner kick at one point and falling onto a fast strike down the middle later on. Landry notched eight saves in the second half, and overall, Soldotna outshot Kenai 13-9.
The defensive line play by sweepers, Rykker Riddall, Braydon Goodman and Max Dye helped Landry to contain the attacks, which became fiercer. Riddall was sent off with a yellow card at one point on a rough play with SoHi striker Timmy Smithwick.
In the 67th minute, the Kenai offense finally lit up with a goal by Beiser, who caught an assist from the midfield and streaked down the left lane to deliver the shot that would ultimately seal the win.
“That was something we were looking for from Luke,” coach Reemstma said. “We need him to produce like that this year.”
Kenai Central will face South Anchorage Saturday at 2 p.m. at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, while SoHi will play South today at 5 p.m. in Soldotna.
Kenai girls 3, Soldotna 1
A trio of goals from Cori Holmes, Mikaela Pitsch and freshman Hayley Maw propelled the Kardinals to victory Thursday afternoon at Soldotna, and while the intense but friendly rivalry between the schools is strongly felt, some don’t bend to the pressure as much.
That was the case Thursday when Maw, a freshman, helped clinch the victory in the last few minutes with a bit of slick dribbling to slot in the insurance goal.
“People talk about it, but I just take it as another game,” Maw said.
To cap off her Thursday evening, Maw added two more goals in the girls JV game following the varsity contest.
“I thought, we needed another goal, and we do pretty good in game situations,” Maw said. “That was awesome to get my first varsity goal.”
The end of the game was simply the finishing touch of a successful defense of a Northern Lights Conference championship rematch between the two teams. Kenai toppled SoHi 3-2 last May to win the region crown for the first time since 2009.
Senior Alli Steinbeck played a big role in the region title last year, and was up to her old tricks again on Thursday, stopping seven of eight shots on goal for Kenai. It added up to a 3-0 start to the season for the Kardinals.
“It’s good to get started fast, but it’s only just the start,” cautioned Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen. “Last year, (Soldotna) beat us 5-0 and we came back to beat them later on, so I told them we’re just getting started.”
Maw was joined by junior Lara Creighton, Olivia Brewer and Holmes in creating an offensive attack that worked against the Stars. Holmes opened the scoring just nine minutes in with a goal that was set up by a nifty head flick from Creighton, and the high, arcing shot caught SoHi goalie Marlayna Saavedra off guard, giving Kenai a 1-0 lead.
SoHi tied things up 15 minutes into the second half with a stylish goal by Abi Tuttle, who caught a glancing shot off Steinbeck on a shot by Stars teammate Whitney Wortham and poked the ball in for the equalizer.
However, Kenai recaptured the lead just three minutes later on a corner kick opportunity. Pitsch took the kick and angled it right to the near corner, grazing a SoHi defender in the goalie box to score the go-ahead goal.
The action picked up when Creighton was shown a yellow card for a hard collision in the goalie box with Saavedra in the 69th minute. A shot attempt bounced off Saavedra and Creighton saw the opportunity to attack, but ended up colliding with Saavedra. SoHi coach Jimmy Love was consequently forced to substitute Ella Stenga in for Saavedra.
“It looked like she tried to get the leg sweep, and it could’ve been a dangerous play,” Love said. “But overall, it was a couple of breakdowns that cost us.”
In the final eight minutes, both teams saw scoring opportunities, but it was the youngster Maw getting the last laugh for Kenai.
“I think we had the legs at the end of the game to keep up, and SoHi looked like they were getting tired,” Verkuilen said.
The Kenai girls will take on South Anchorage Saturday at noon in Kenai, while Soldotna plays South today at 7 p.m.
Homer boys 4, Nikiski 1
The Mariners picked up a victory against NLC opponent Nikiski at Homer High School to move to 2-1 overall this season.
Simon Dye scored twice and notched an assist for Homer, while teammate Oliver Beck had a goal and two assists, all in the first half. Quinn Alward scored early for Homer as well.
Homer will face Grace Christian Saturday at 2 p.m.
Homer girls 4, Nikiski 0
Rachel Ellert led the Mariner girls to the victory over the Bulldogs with two goals Thursday evening in Homer. Megan Pitzman and Sofia Clark scored as well, and Pitzman added an assist. Homer led 2-0 at halftime.