The Soldotna boys toppled the East Thunderbirds Friday with a 2-1 road win in Anchorage, continuing a hot start to the prep season.
Timmy Smithwick had the game winner for the Stars early in the second half, capping a flurry of goals between the two sides. Smithwick slotted in the go-ahead strike 15 minutes into the second half with an assist from teammate Andrew Hammond.
Hardly three minutes before, Dylan Kuntz had opened the scoring with an assist from Smithwick, who flicked the ball over on a sideline throw-in. On the ensuing kickoff at midfield, East took possession and quickly equalized, much to the dismay of SoHi coach Darryl Byerley.
“It’s called learning our lesson,” Byerley said. “In the five minutes after you score, you better tighten your (defense).”
Byerley said to his and SoHi girls coach Jimmy Love’s recollections, the Stars had never previously met the Thunderbirds in any soccer competition, and the victory over the Anchorage squad, which pushes SoHi’s season mark to 3-0, proved to be a gigantic step for a Soldotna team that missed out on last year’s state tournament.
“We’re very happy, we’ve just continued to mature and develop,” Byerley said. “The basic skills are there, now comes the coaching aspect.”
Soldotna sophomore goalkeeper Blake Jones held strong in the goal in his varsity debut, and Byerley credited Johnny Smithwick and Eli Sheridan with strong defensive midfield play.
The Stars will face a tough schedule next week with games against Nikiski, Kenai, South and West Anchorage.
East girls 3, Soldotna 0
The Stars stumbled Friday in a shutout loss to nonconference opponent East in Anchorage.
The loss dropped the Stars to 2-1 overall.
Homer boys 3, Eagle River 1
The Mariners earned their first win of the season Saturday at home against the Wolves in nonconference action.
Simon Dye provided the go-ahead goal in the second half with a 40-yard shot to put Homer up 2-1, then Quinn Alward sealed the victory with a goal in the final minute of play.
Oliver Beck scored in the 21st minute of the first half to open the scoring for Homer. Eagle River came back to tie it up 18 minutes into the second half.
The win leaves Homer with a 1-1 overall record.
Homer girls 1, Eagle River 0
Freshman Brenna McCarron provided the lone goal for the Mariners, which picked up a win Saturday over Eagle River in Homer.
Senior goalkeeper Sam Draves put together another dazzling performance in net with 13 saves.
The victory left the Mariners with a 2-0 record overall in 2016.