The visiting Homer girls soccer team scored with less than three minutes left in the game to pull out a 2-1 Peninsula Conference victory over Nikiski on Tuesday.
The Mariners move to 9-2-4 and 3-0-2 in the league, while Nikiski falls to 2-6-2 and 2-6-0.
“That goal really changed things a lot,” Homer coach Mike Tozzo said. “It made everybody breathe easier. We were just ready to get the heck out of there afterward.”
Brenna McCarron, assisted by Sienna Carey, put the Mariners up 1-0 25 minutes into the game. At the beginning of the second half, Jordyn Stock tied it for Nikiski on a penalty kick.
“We didn’t play very well,” Tozzo said. “Nikiski controlled possession and took more shots than us. Nikiski outplayed us in almost every aspect of the game. We were very lucky to come away with a 2-1 win.”
The Bulldogs had lost 9-0 to the Mariners on April 23.
“Fortunately, Homer streamed that game, so we watched part of the first half,” Nikiski coach Linda Zimmerman said. “I think it was a pretty useful tool for them.”
The coach said her team played with the theme of everything to prove and nothing to lose.
“There was more communication, more focus and more intensity,” Zimmerman said. “They really played smart soccer. I’d like to think it was one of our best games of the year.”
The coach said Tika Zimmerman did well hustling and creating opportunities, while Abby Bystedt was fantastic in goal.
Homer boys 2, Nikiski 1
The visiting Mariners also were able to escape with a victory and move to 8-3-2 overall and 3-1-1 in the league.
Austin Shafford, assisted by Daniel Reutov, put the Mariners up 29 minutes into the game, but just after the half Cooper Stock, on an assist from Shane Weathers, tied the game.
Reutov then won it with three minutes to play. Homer coach Warren Waldorf said there are a number of reasons he could give for the close result, but the bottom line is Nikiski played well.
“They’ve got some good players in the midfield and they got a good goal,” Waldorf said. “In some ways, I was a little disappointed they didn’t finish with a draw. It would have been exciting for them. I’m relieved we got the win.”
Nikiski assistant Tyler Smith said the Bulldogs focused on playing their style and it resulted in their best game of the season.
“In a lot of these games, we’ve had to grow mentally,” he said. “I feel like now that we’re finally playing mentally tough, we can play bigger, faster and stronger out on the field.”
Smith said center back Cody Handley kept the action in front of him, while Michael Mysing and Gavin White worked through physical play in the midfield.
Soldotna girls 8, Seward 0
The host Stars moved to 9-5-2 and 3-1-2 with the Peninsula Conference win.
After sitting out in Monday’s loss to Kenai, Rhys Cannava scored the first three goals of the game — the first unassisted, the second and third from Ryann Cannava and Katharine Bramante.
“The girls were happy to see her back out there,” Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said. “She had some giddy-up in her step, she was moving all over the place. To sit there and watch her team play against their archrival had to be a big bummer for her.”
Other goals came from Ryann Cannava, Sierra Kuntz, Drysta Crosby-Schneider from Cameron Blackwell and Meijan Leaf, Crosby-Schneider from Blackwell, and Jordan Strausbaugh from Haley Buckbee and Rhys Cannava.
Margardia Mendoca had the shutout in net.
Love said the Stars took care to not run up the score, but he still thought something was missing from his team’s play.
“We could have come out with a little more excitement,” he said.
Soldotna boys 3, Seward 1
The host Stars topped the Seahawks in Peninsula Conference play to move to 10-6-0 and 4-2-0.
Soldotna led 2-1 at the half on goals from Maleda Denbrock and Kaleb Swank. Seward’s tally came from Bjorn Nilsson. Swank then finished it off with another score in the second half.
Seward coach Dustin Phillips said Collin Mullaly was his man of the match, while Soldotna coach David Holmes praised Denbrock.
“He’s the kind of kid, even when he loses the ball, it still kind of magically reappears at his feet,” Holmes said of the freshman. “He’s a fun kid to watch. In the next couple of years, he should be a really solid player.”