The Kenai Central girls and boys soccer teams swept host Homer on Tuesday in Northern Lights Conference Southern Division action.
The Kardinals girls topped the Mariners 3-0 to move to 6-1-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division. The Kenai boys defeated Homer 2-1 to move to 4-3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division. The Homer boys dropped to 2-3-3 overall.
The girls game was a tight affair, with Kenai unable to gain the edge until late in the match.
“The first half was a pretty even game,” Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said. “They had a little pressure and I had (goalie) Alli (Steinbeck) down for saving three shots.”
At halftime, Verkuilen reminded his team how important the game was for Southern Division seeding. He said his team responded by slowly building up pressure in the second half.
In the 73rd minute, Heidi Perkins broke through with an assist from Savannah Clark. Then in the 78th minute, Jacey Ross celebrated her birthday by finishing a cross from Cassi Holmes.
Finally, Hannah Drury finished off the scoring in the 80th minute with a nice volley. The play was set up by a Sarah Every free kick, which was flicked to Drury by Perkins.
With forward Lara Creighton and sweeper Kylie Morse out with injuries, Verkuilen said it was nice to get the win.
He said the whole team did a nice job flowing to the ball as the game progressed, but said Every and Drury were particularly impressive in that regard.
The Kenai boys overcame a tough, last-minute loss to Soldotna on Monday with the win Tuesday.
“It means the world to us,” Kenai coach Joel Reemtsma said. “We did a lot of soul-searching on the bus down, a lot of individual meetings and team meetings talking about things.
“It was a pretty crushing loss (on Monday), especially the way the guys fought. If you don’t focus for 80-plus minutes, that’s what happens. Today we focused all the way through.”
Reemtsma said his squad possessed the ball for the first two minutes of the game, but then Homer took it to the Kards for about 10 minutes.
That culminated in a penalty kick for Kenneth Schneider, and Schneider beat goalie Wren Norwood.
Reemtsma said the early goal was a big test for his team because Kenai did not score against Homer in a game earlier this season.
“One of the things we talked about is you can’t let fear and doubt creep in,” he said. “You’ve got to have confidence.”
Kenai missed midfielder Nate Saavedra due to an ankle injury, but Braydon Goodman returned from injury and put the Kards level with about 25 minutes left on a corner kick from Jake Eubank.
Then with 10 minutes left, Zack Tuttle earned a penalty kick when he was fouled after receiving a cross from Kevin Ramos. Austin McKee punched in the penalty kick.
“The better team won tonight,” Homer coach Warren Waldorf wrote in an email.
Reemtsma said Waldorf told him the same thing after the game.
“He’s got a lot of youth, too, and it’s amazing how he’s worked those young players in and they still touch and move the ball nicely,” Reemtsma said. “Their off-ball movement is tough to track.”