Homer sophomore Hannah Mershon weaves through trafffic during a 4-0 loss to the Knights in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

Homer sophomore Hannah Mershon weaves through trafffic during a 4-0 loss to the Knights in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

NLC soccer tourney Day 1

  • By Staff Report
  • Thursday, May 21, 2015 11:48pm
  • Sports

The Soldotna girls, winners of five of the last seven Northern Lights Conference titles, opened up their annual campaign at the conference tournament with a 9-1 victory over Palmer on Thursday in Palmer.

Miranda Wolfe led the way for the Stars with four goals.

Soldotna, the No. 1 seed from the Southern Division, will play Colony, No. 2 from the Northern Division, at 11 a.m. today at Palmer. The Stars topped the Knights 5-0 earlier in the season.

Soldotna coach Jimmy Love was happy to see his team rebound from a tie with Kenai in the season finale.

“The girls started working together better than the Kenai game, when they were trying to be too individualized, and maybe a little selfish,” Love said. “Today’s difference is they were looking for a person to pass to, to a point where there were times we were wondering why they weren’t shooting.

“We have to find the fine line of knowing when it is appropriate to put a shot on frame and when it’s not.”

Wolfe scored inside the first two minutes on an assist from Alex Ashe, then before 12 minutes were gone Ashe scored on assists from Skylar Shaw and Abi Tuttle, and Wolfe scored on an assist from Tuttle.

After Shaw scored in the 21st minute, Palmer scored in the 31st minute, but Wolfe, from Makenna Rosin and Kearsten Yeats, gave the Stars a 5-1 lead at the half.

In the second half, Tuttle, Reagan Schoessler, Wolfe and Whitney Wortham had goals, and Tuttle had one assist while Taryn McCubbins had two assists.

Homer boys 2, Wasilla 0

The Mariners, the No. 3 seed out of the south, knocked off the Warriors, No. 2 from the north, in extra time.

After the two sides were scoreless for 80 minutes, the Mariners finally broke the deadlock in the first 10-minute session when Flynn Bloom took a free kick that connected with a Kenneth Schneider header on the far post.

In the second 10-minute session, Schneider got a breakaway, but instead of shooting, he slid a square ball to Charles Rohr, who slammed it into an empty net.

“The kids were overjoyed,” Homer coach Warren Waldorf said after the game.

The game matched two of the conference’s top teams in recent years and lived up to its billing.

Homer was third in state last year and fourth in 2012, while Wasilla has won the conference title in three of the past four years. The teams tied 3-3 in their regular-season battle.

“We came together today,” Waldorf said. “It was wonderful to see.

“This is the first homegrown Alaska team. We’ve always had foreign exchange students, but we did this without great talent from another country.”

Waldorf said Eric Hill had a great game in net, while Drew Brown was pivotal in the shutout at central defense. Daniel Wiest also marked well.

In the midfield, Waldorf said Bloom, Schneider, Ren Carroll and Filip Reutov all had a phenomenal game.

Homer plays Kenai at 6 p.m. today at Palmer. The teams tied 0-0 this year, before Kenai notched a 2-1 victory.

“The problem is we have to score to win, and Wren (Norwood) is such a good goalkeeper,” Waldorf said. “I made a tactical error last time we played them. It won’t happen again.”

Waldorf also said the overtime game won’t affect Homer, because the Mariners get a whole day to recover.

Kenai Central boys 3, Palmer 0

The Kardinals, the top seed out of the Southern Division, got a pair of goals from senior captain Austin McKee to put away Palmer, No. 4 out of the Northern Division.

“Austin McKee was named the team MVP at our banquet, so it was great for him to come out and play like that,” Kenai coach Joel Reemtsma said.

Kenai posted a shutout for the fourth game in a row. Reemtsma said defensive backs Jake Eubank, Max Dye, Braydon Goodman and Riley McKee are communicating well, and goalie Wren Norwood also does a good job of making sure everybody is marked up.

Reemtsma said the turning point in the game came 10 minutes in, when Palmer had a great chance to take the lead but Luke Beiser was able to put the threatening cross over the end line for a corner kick.

In the 20th minute, Austin McKee scored from just inside the penalty box. Then five minutes before the half, Zack Tuttle fired a shot on net and Chris Hamilton kept the rebound in the box. Nate Saavedra scored out of the scrum.

The second-half goal came when Beiser was brought down in the penalty box and Austin McKee converted the penalty kick.

“We dominated the game so we were able to get a lot of subs in,” Reemtsma said.

Grace Christian boys 2, Soldotna 1

The Grizzlies, the No. 3 seed out of the north, beat Soldotna, the No. 2 seed from the south, for the second time in a week.

Like the regular-season battle, Grace took a 2-0 lead only to have Soldotna score a goal late.

“We scored with about five minutes left,” Soldotna coach Darryl Byerley said after his squad finished 11-5. “We were finally playing with a sense of urgency we needed for the whole 80.”

The goal came when Dylan Ackerman hammered home a rebound from a Ty Fenton shot.

“It was a well played game by both sides,” Byerley said.

The coach said Ryan Winter and Austin Craig were solid on outside defense.

Byerley also said Ackerman was dangerous at striker, while Fenton deserves credit for playing through a shoulder injury that had him holding his arm across his chest the whole game.

Grace and Colony face off in a semifinal today at 1 p.m. at Palmer.

Kenai girls 2, Grace 1

The Kardinals, the second seed from the south, fell behind 1-0 in the second half before rallying for a victory over Grace, No. 3 from the north.

“It was one of those where you’re glad you came out on the winning end,” Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen said. “It was a well played game by Grace. They are a good, disciplined team.”

Verkuilen said the play in the midfield was mostly even, but the Kards developed a few more scoring chances. He said Kenai missed on four breakaways.

That could have proved costly when, in the 60th minute, Grace’s Katelyn Richards bent a goal to the far post.

But three minutes later, Heidi Perkins took a pass from the midfield and fired a shot on Grace’s keeper. The save was made, but Perkins pounced on the rebound for the equalizer.

“We then put some pressure on them because we had renewed energy,” Verkuilen said.

With five minutes left, Kenai’s Hannah Drury scored from 25 yards out on a bender to the far post that was similar to Richards’ strike.

Verkuilen said Kylie Morse was great at sweeper, while Cori Holmes and Drury also showed a lot of hustle.

He said Lara Creighton also created a lot of opportunities up front.

Kenai faces Wasilla at 3 p.m. at Palmer today. The two teams tied 1-1 this season in a physical contest.

Colony girls 4, Homer 0

The Knights, seeded second out of the Northern Division, ended the season of the Mariners, seeded third out of the Southern Division.

“We just couldn’t score,” Homer coach Mickey Todd said. “We had several good scoring opportunities, and an open net twice, which we missed.

“They made a couple of nice shots. We struggled all year putting the ball away and today that really hurt.”

The Mariners finished the season 5-10-2.

“I thought we had a pretty good season,” Todd said. “We played twice as many games as ever before due to the turf and the mild winter.”

The Mariners lose seniors Tisha Lovett, Aspen Daigle, Jane Rohr and Lexxy Stenon.

“I thought we improved as a team over the course of the season,” Todd said. “We just didn’t play well today, and they did.”

Wasilla girls 8, Nikiski 0

The Wasilla girls have been waiting for another crack at the Kenai Kardinals.

Today, Wasilla will have its shot at redemption.

Wasilla used an 8-0 quarterfinal win over Nikiski to move forward to the semifinal round, where the Warriors will face Kenai today at 3 p.m. at Palmer High.

Alexa Starr scored a pair of goals to lead Wasilla to the win over the Bulldogs. Teyonnah Williams, Jodie Richey, Addie Messick, Pheobe Christiansen, Emilia Butler and Leanna Malak also scored for Wasilla. Lauren Amirault recorded the shutout in the win.

The win sets up a semifinal rematch between the Kards and the Warriors. Wasilla played Kenai during the regular season, region tournament and state tournament last year. The Kards were 3-0 against Wasilla in 2014.

This year, the lone meeting between the rivals ended in a 1-1 tie.

“There’s going to be no surprises. Both teams know each other so well,” Wasilla head coach Patrick O’Neill said after the Nikiski win. “All their stronger players are seniors and juniors, just like us. They have a real strong goalie. They play tough (defense) and they’re a well-coached team.”

Colony boys 9, Kodiak 1

Thursday marked a rough NLC tournament debut for the Kodiak Bears.

Defending state champion Colony scored a 9-1 win over Kodiak, a first-year varsity program, during the conference quarterfinals at Colony High School.

Cameron Shaw, Caleb Covington and Jake Forstner netted two goals each for the Knights. Josh Spannagel, Mike Shower and Russell Diotte also scored.

Joao Marques and Austin Richardson collected two assists each.

Colony led 6-0 at halftime.

Colony will meet North Division rival Grace Christian in the semifinals, today at 1 p.m. at Palmer High. Grace, the No. 3 seed, upset Soldotna, the No. 2 seed from the South, 2-1.

Colony junior Ripley Wakaliuk works to keep the ball away from Homer freshman Aspen Daigle during a 4-0 win over the Mariners in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

Colony junior Ripley Wakaliuk works to keep the ball away from Homer freshman Aspen Daigle during a 4-0 win over the Mariners in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

Wasilla sophomore Jodie Richey tries to race past Nikiski sophomore Brianna Vollertsen during an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

Wasilla sophomore Jodie Richey tries to race past Nikiski sophomore Brianna Vollertsen during an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

NLC soccer tourney Day 1

Wasilla sophomore Jodie Richey tries to race past Nikiski sophomore Brianna Vollertsen during an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

NLC soccer tourney Day 1

Wasilla sophomore Jodie Richey tries to race past Nikiski sophomore Brianna Vollertsen during an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs in the Northern Lights Conference quarterfinals May 21 at Colony High School in Palmer.

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