The Soldotna girls soccer team picked up a 1-0 nonconference victory over Houston on Thursday at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.
The Stars moved to 6-4-2 overall while honoring seniors Caleigh Glassmaker, Rhys Cannava, Jolie Widaman, Katharine Bramante, Justine Thomas and Damiana Coppola.
Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said it was a special moment when Cannava, the dynamic goal scorer who has been out all season after sustaining a knee injury in basketball, started the game and knocked the ball back before Soldotna kicked the ball out of bounds to allow Cannava to exit the game.
Love said he’s extremely fond of the seniors and added the group has had to deal with some tough blows.
“They came through their freshman year and had a great year, then COVID hit and they had to miss that whole thing,” he said. “And then they come back that next year, their junior year, and had a good year. We did what we wanted to do except win state.
“Then losing Cannava to her injury, that was painful. Since they’re all such a tightknit group, that had a follow-up effect on the rest of the team.”
In the 11th minute of the second half, junior Liberty Miller provided the game’s deciding strike with a volley near the top of the box.
“She’s been talking about that lately: ‘I can’t find the back of the goal, I can’t find the back of the goal,’” Love said. “But I said, ‘Keep shooting and you’ll find it.’
“She got one today and I think she’s happy with that.”
Other than that strike, the Stars were not able to solve Houston goalie Anna Whitted. Junior Sunny Miller had the shutout for SoHi.
“Anna was killing it, right? So I couldn’t be happier there,” Houston coach Heather Fortune said.
The coach also gave credit to Grace Gillespie for a great game in the middle of the defense.
“I’m pretty happy with the game,” Fortune said. “I think that maybe, SoHi came in not expecting the battle that we gave them.”
Love said his team continues to have a hard time finding the back of the net. He added the constant, cold wind did his squad no favors.
“Normally, I don’t complain about the weather, but today the wind actually had an impact on the game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, because both teams have to play through that weather.