About the only pleasant experience Tuesday afternoon at Soldotna High School was the power the SoHi boys soccer team felt on offense.
The Stars swept the Nikiski Bulldogs in a pair of Peninsula Conference meetings at Justin Maile Field, with the girls winning 7-0 and the boys winning 13-0.
“That’s pretty high on the list,” said SoHi boys coach Darryl Byerley when asked how miserable the conditions were.
While the girls contest featured a cold cloud cover and chilly wind gusts, the boys game kicked off in darn near miserable conditions. The wind reached a new category and the rain pelted down sideways in miserable fashion, prompting some of the players to compete with heavy winter gloves and hats.
“That’s the worse weather I’ve played in,” said Soldotna senior Luke Trammell. “My stuff is dripping.”
In a cruel sendoff by Mother Nature, as the boys game wrapped up, the wind subsided, the skies lightened and the sun emerged, as if signaling the end of the SoHi storm on the field.
“When you play a blowout game in this weather it’s tough,” Byerley said. “But as the other team it’s tougher.”
The Stars had two players finish with a hat trick — Trammell and freshman Josh Heiber. Heiber’s three-goal outburst was complete by the 22nd minute of the game, and it marked his third game this season the frosh netted a hat trick.
“(Heiber) is, as coaches say, a nice find in having someone who can finish,” Byerley said. “It’s a skill that isn’t taught, he has that natural touch.”
“We attack well,” Trammell explained. “We found runs and gaps on the field to get the ball up, and with Josh, Eli (Sheridan), Alex (Montague) and me up front, it was a good game.
“It all starts with the back line, Gavin (Goggia) and Ethan (Bott).”
Chase Miller got the shutout in net for SoHi.
Sheridan opened the scoring seven minutes in with a swift run up the left flank on a through ball.
While the Bulldogs held stout on defense in the early minutes, the floodgates opened for SoHi with three goals in a three-minute stretch, starting with a juke from Heiber on Nikiski goalkeeper Michael Eiter that resulted in an easy tap into net in the 16th minute.
Heiber scored again a minute later with a fast run up the right sideline, and Trammell added another just a minute later with an assist from Heiber, sending the ball across the goal box and banging it in off the right goal post for a 4-0 lead.
Heiber played a through ball perfectly up the middle for a one-on-one showdown with Eiter in the 22nd minute and scored to finish his hat trick and give the Stars a 5-0 lead.
Trammell netted goals in the 24th and 31st minutes to finish his hat trick and Alex Montague made it an 8-0 game at halftime with a goal on a rebound.
Nikiski head coach Harrison Deveer credited the Bulldogs for playing together in the opening 15 minutes, but the flood of goals came down to several defensive mistakes.
“We played a trap game but when four defenders are on one attacker, it opened the field for the others,” Deveer said.
In the second half, SoHi got goals from Cameron Johnson (on a penalty kick), Eli Wackler, John-Mark Pothast and Goggia.
In the girls game, six different players scored for SoHi, with sophomore Ryann Cannava leading the way with two goals. Senior Ella Stenga earned the blank sheet in goal for SoHi, while primary goalkeeper Maddie Kindred was away for a school commitment.
SoHi coach Jimmy Love said he was happy with the Stars’ passing game in the second half after an opening 40 minutes of “individual” play.
“At the end of the day, it’s a victory,” Love said. “But I wasn’t overly excited or thrilled about our first half.”
SoHi led 2-0 at halftime, thanks to goals by Meijan Leaf in the 10th minute and Faith Glassmaker in the 25th. Leaf, a freshman striker, beat out a Nikiski defender on the right sideline and slotted home the opening score into the top corner with a strike past Nikiski goalie Abby Bystedt. Bystedt started in goal for Nikiski and was replaced by Emily Hightower in the second half.
Leaf was later helped off the field with an injury after colliding with a Nikiski player in the box in the first half, and did not return.
Love said the range of scorers SoHi got was partly attributed to the improved passing in the second half.
“Six different goal scorers always looks good, but I don’t care who we’re playing, we need the same consistency every game,” he said.
Cannava notched her first goal five minutes into the second half for a 3-0 lead, and was followed soon after by junior Haley Buckbee, who took a shot from Journey Miller on the right baseline in the 54th minute for a 4-0 lead.