Sarah Baisden winds to kick during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sarah Baisden winds to kick during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai sweeps, shuts out Nikiski in Friday soccer games

Kenai girls and boys teams opened with early goals

The Kenai Central High School girls and boys soccer teams swept and shut out visiting Nikiski on a blustery Friday.

Kenai Central girls 6, Nikiski 0

The Kenai Central girls topped Nikiski 6-0 on Friday.

Coach Dan Verkuilen said the wind made Friday’s games challenging for everyone. He said the Kardinals did a good job managing the ball and working through the wind, but they had to be right on their passes or risk the breeze carrying the ball out of their control.

“It’s always hard when the wind is such a dominant force.”

The Kardinals opened scoring early with a goal only eight minutes into the game by Chloe Grimm on assists by Brynnen Hanson and Kylee Verkuilen. Hanson and Kylee followed up with two goals of their own — Hanson with an assist by Katie Johnson — before the end of the first half.

In the second half, the Kardinals momentum was brought to a halt. Though the Bulldogs weren’t able to put points on the board, their goalie, Emma Weeks, fended off countless shots to keep the Kardinals from scoring for more than 30 minutes of the second half.

“Their goalie did an amazing job — made some beautiful saves,” coach Verkuilen said.

In the final 10 minutes, Hanson put two more in the net, the second with another assist by Johnson, and Tait Cooper closed the game with a sixth Kardinal goal on assists by Savannah Hershberger and Kate Wisnewski.

Verkuilen said he was proud of the Kardinals’ showing on Friday, crediting their passing, shooting and management. He said the season is young, but the team is coming together and working hard.

“It’s kind of the start of it now,” he said.

Kenai Central boys 9, Nikiski 0

The Kardinals boys dropped Nikiski 9-0 on Friday.

Sawyer Vann put 3 in the net for Kenai. Miles Metteer and Grady Adams both had 2 and Trae Pitsch had 1. A final goal was scored accidentally after bouncing off a Nikiski player.

Similarly to the girls, the Kenai Central boys opened the action with an early goal. Pitsch put the Kardinals on the scoreboard only five minutes into the game.

Kenai Central coach Shane Lopez said he saw from the team all the technical work he’s looking to see developing this early in the season. That means tight passing, good communication, and teamwork that drives goal scoring.

“They stuck to the plans,” he said. “Both when we were facing the wind and when we had the wind at our favor.”

Kenai Central’s Tait Cooper shoots while Nikiski’s Emma Weeks moves to block during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Tait Cooper shoots while Nikiski’s Emma Weeks moves to block during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Miles Metteer winds to kick during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Miles Metteer winds to kick during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Zane James catches a pass during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Zane James catches a pass during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Enrique Mercado battles Nikiski defensemen for control of the ball during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Enrique Mercado battles Nikiski defensemen for control of the ball during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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