Same field. Same style. Same results.
Last fall at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna, senior Ty Fenton earned medium-schools all-state first-team honors in helping the Stars to the state title as a no-nonsense fullback that was always about putting teammates first.
Friday, Fenton played a similar role as he scored both goals in a 2-0 SoHi victory over nonconference visitor Eagle River.
The strikes from Fenton came in the eighth and 60th minutes of the game, the first playing off of Andreas Asimakopoulos and the second playing off of Bos Asimakopoulos.
“My teammates did a good job finding me and I was just able to put it in,” Fenton said.
Both goals, and numerous other forays by Fenton into the box during the game, carried the identical quality of directness. The senior doesn’t do much side to side. Everything is headed straight toward the goal mouth.
“The coaches in football do a good job of teaching us to run north-south,” said Fenton, who also brings the quick decision-making of a hockey forward to the table. “It’s probably a big influence.”
Fenton was not alone in crediting teammates for his success.
“Ty would not have had the opportunities he had at striker had the midfield not found him,” Soldotna head coach Darryl Byerley said after moving to 3-0 overall.
If forced to choose which part of the team has played the biggest role in the strong start, Byerley would take the midfielders.
He said the group is led by Bos Asimakopoulos and Dylan Kuntz, and a rotation of other players like Eli Sheridan.
Byerley said the group is doing an excellent job of gaining possession of the ball and keeping it.
“When you can make the other team play chase the ball, you’re not playing chase the ball,” Byerley said. “That’s going to tire them out.
“I’d like to think that’s the reason two or three of their players came out with cramps.”
Soldotna’s advantage over the Wolves (0-7) grew as the game progressed.
In the first half, Bos Asimakopoulos missed a couple Grade A opportunities, but Eagle River’s Keaton Sullivan also found himself alone in the middle of the box and missed his target.
With the wind at their backs, the Stars controlled the second half. Eagle River took 13 goal kicks while Soldotna didn’t have any. The Stars had six corner kicks, and the Wolves had none. Soldotna also had six solid shots on net to none for Eagle River.
Eagle River assistant coach Steve Johnson said the wind wasn’t a huge factor in the second half, but it was a factor. He said it was a positive sign the Wolves were able to hold the Stars to one goal despite the half of pressure.
Johnson said central defenders Daniel Prior and Seth Hard played a big role in keeping most of the shots 30 to 40 yards out. Goalie Chris Jensen was then able to field those inquiries.
Johnson said Eagle River, a school of under 1,000, plays mostly against much larger Anchorage schools. He said it was great to play a school like Soldotna that is much closer in size.
“This is the first time since it has been opened that Eagle River has come down here,” said Johnson, whose school opened in 2005. “It’s definitely been a good thing.”
Bailey Jones, with some late help from Cameron Knowlton, had the shutout for the Stars. Byerley said the Stars have a new defensive unit that is learning fast.
“They didn’t have to play with a lot of pressure the whole game, they weren’t playing defense all of the time,” Byerley said. “Again, a lot of that has to do with the midfield.”
Soldotna girls 5, Wasilla 2
Miranda Wolfe and Abby Tuttle each notched a pair of goals as the host Stars picked up a Northern Lights Conference win to move to 2-0.
“It’s only the second game, but I think we’re starting to mold better together as a whole team,” Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said.
In the 14th minute, Tuttle started off the scoring with an unassisted tally. Just six minutes later, Miranda Wolfe scored with help from Skylar Shaw and Bailey Rosin. Then, with 10 minutes left in the first half, Jaela Hubbard found the back of the net after a pass from Makenna Rosin.
Wasilla then was able to score before the end of the half for a 3-1 game.
“3-1 is a dangerous halftime lead, and that’s what we told the girls at halftime,” Love said. “Obviously, the girls listened because they scored less than a minute into the second half.”
Tuttle got that goal, assisted by Shaw and Hannah Wells.
Then, 24 minutes into the second half, Miranda Wolfe scored with help from her sister, Alyssa.
A last-minute penalty kick by Wasilla accounted for the final score.
Love said a great deal of the game was played in the midfield, but he thought the Stars enjoyed a slight advantage in possession.
“I think we had the better of the chances, but they traveled to Homer yesterday and then had to travel here, so they probably weren’t on their A game,” Love said.
While the team in general looked more comfortable the second time out, Love said Tuttle especially found her groove.
The Stars host Nikiski on Monday at 4 p.m.
Wasilla boys 2, Soldotna 0
The Warriors blanked the Stars in NLC action, dropping Soldotna to 3-1.
Wasilla scored eight minutes in on a corner kick, then put the game away with a goal late in the game.
“Soldotna came out a little flat,” Byerley said. “Give credit to Wasilla. It was their fourth game in a row.
“They came out a little more ready to play and as a result we weren’t first to the ball when we needed to be.”
Byerley said Austin Craig had a solid game at left defense, putting his constant energy to good use.