On a cold, cloudy and windy day, the Soldotna girls soccer team continued to fan the flames of their hot start to the season, beating Southeast rival Ketchikan 4-1 Wednesday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.
SoHi received two goals each from Whitney Wortham and Abi Tuttle in the nonleague contest. Maddie Kindred earned the win in goal for Soldotna, which now stands at 7-0 overall in 2015.
SoHi last faced Ketchikan last year in early May and walked away with a 7-0 win, but with several key players gone from this year’s squad, nothing was certain. Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said that many teams base their expectations of an opponent on their past history with them, which can be a big mistake.
“You just can’t do that,” Love said. “You don’t know who they are, you have to come and play. So I thought they have been much better this year than in the past.”
After an opening 10 minutes in Wednesday’s game that saw a lot of midfield play, the Stars began to close in on the Kings’ defense with increasing intensity. Eventually, SoHi broke out with a goal by Tuttle in the 15th minute that came from the right side of the goal box. Tuttle’s shot had just enough curve to it to compensate for the extreme angle and find the netting. Miranda Wolfe had the assist.
Wortham slotted in the second strike in the 29th minute with an array of quick touches on the outside edges of the goal box to work by a few defenders and score her first goal of the night to put SoHi up 2-0.
Wortham then added her second goal just six minutes later on a shot similar to Tuttle’s, reaching from the right flank to angle the ball off the left goal post and give Soldotna a 3-0 lead, which the Stars kept at halftime.
“I don’t know how Whitney’s (goal) went in, I have no idea,” Love said. “I was trying to explain to her, it was a low percentage. Next time, you want to try and push it out a bit.”
SoHi did not relax in the second half. Five minutes in, Tuttle released a shot from the right side of the goal once again and succeeded when the ball glanced of the left post.
Makenna Rosin nearly added a fifth goal just two minutes later with a shot off the Ketchikan crossbar, and a pass from Wolfe was nearly headed in by Taylor Wilson in the 55th minute. Another crossbar blow was taken by Wilson in the 68th minute.
The Kings worked for a goal in the second half to help close it up, and they got a few opportunities from Gabi Bonck and Angel Spurgeon, but Soldotna controlled possession throughout much of the match, and Love was quick to credit the staunch defense.
“Thankfully for us, we have a quick defense, and they were trying that through ball and it didn’t have much success,” Love said. “We were able to thwart that, so that was good on our part.”
A back line of Alex Ashe, Bailey Rosin and Taryn McCubbins kept things in check for most of the game. However, it was Spurgeon who ruined Kindred’s shutout with a goal with three minutes left in the game. Spurgeon worked her way around the SoHi defense and launched a shot high enough to find its way past Kindred.
“We had a lapse and broke down, and you can’t do that in a 1-1 game,” Love said. “In a 4-0 game, no big deal, but it would be big in a 1-1 game.”
With seven regular season games left, Soldotna is halfway through its season, and Love said he sees his squad contending with the likes of Kenai, Wasilla and Colony for supremacy in the Northern Lights Conference. The Stars will face the Colony Knights Friday at 4 p.m. in Soldotna, and the Palmer Moose Saturday at 10 a.m.