Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Soldotna's Thomas Flores goes head to head with a Colony player during their game on Friday May 8, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Thomas Flores goes head to head with a Colony player during their game on Friday May 8, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Soldotna girls, Colony boys notch soccer victories

Two of the state’s top soccer programs rolled to convincing victories Friday in Northern Lights Conference play at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.

The Soldotna girls, who have finished third in the state the past three years, rolled to a 5-0 victory over Colony. The Stars move to 8-0 overall, while the Knights fall to 5-3-1.

In the boys game, Colony, which was state champ last season and runner-up the year before that, subdued the Stars 3-0. The Knights are 13-3-2, while Soldotna falls to 7-2.

A slow start doomed the Colony girls against Soldotna. The Stars had a 3-0 lead just 16 minutes into the match and the Knights were having a rough time just getting the ball past midfield for the first 20 minutes of the game.

Junior Peyton Johnstone was late for the match after taking a test, and entered eight minutes into the game.

Colony coach Lorie Miner said that was no excuse for the way her team played.

“I was disappointed through the entire game,” Miner said. “Our team is better than what we showed today.

“Soldotna is a good team and Colony is a good team. Colony didn’t show up to play today.”

Just six minutes into the match, Miranda Wolfe found Abi Tuttle in the corner of the box and when Colony keeper Madison Zmuda charged, Tuttle placed the ball over her.

Then six minutes later, Tuttle played a through ball to Wolfe, whose cross to Whitney Wortham was deposited in the back of the net.

The opening barrage climaxed when a Tuttle cross was deposited in the back of the net by Makenna Rosin at the 16th minute.

After that, Soldotna’s scoring pace slowed. Soldotna coach Jimmy Love thought that was because his team was content to play in the space it occupied, instead of going through the effort of finding new space.

Miner had a list of the shortcomings in the match: “Inability to beat the bounce. Inability to be first to the ball. Inability to connect passes. Inability to play our game.”

Just two minutes into the second half, Bailey Rosin played the ball out of the back to Reagan Schoessler, who played to Wolfe. She beat a couple defenders and the goalie for 4-0 lead. In the 61st minute, Tuttle completed the scoring when she hopped past a couple of defenders and scored.

Love said Wolfe and Tuttle had some nice combinations to set up crosses and chances on net. While he would have liked to see more made of many of those chances, he didn’t have a whole lot to be displeased with on a day when Maddie Kindred recorded another shutout. Miner also gave Zmuda credit for limiting the damage of the Soldotna attack.

Taryn McCubbins and Alex Ashe once again headed up a Soldotna defense that is very hard to beat with through balls or by playing over the top. A big reason is the speed and strong clearances of McCubbins and Ashe.

“Over the top and through hasn’t worked on us yet, but teams continue to try and do it,” Love said. “I hope they keep trying to do that.”

At center midfield, Skylar Shaw and Emmalee Johnson kept control of the proceedings, especially in the early, dominant stretch.

“I’ll look up and see space and get excited, and she’s already played the ball into it,” Love said of Shaw. “She’s doing that so much better than last season, and we’re only halfway through this season.”

Colony boys 3, Soldotna 0

The Stars have gotten off to their solid start this season in big part due to solid play in the midfield.

But the Knights controlled the midfield Friday and thus controlled the game. Soldotna took 16 goal kicks in the game, while Colony took just five. And the Knights had six corner kicks to Soldotna’s three.

“There was not a lot to be excited about, except we had six or seven freshmen on the field at times,” SoHi head coach Darryl Byerley said.

If anything, the game showcased a new phenomenon is Northern Lights Conference soccer. With so many teams now on turf, an extended season means teams no longer feel pressure to get all their best players on the pitch just to get them some playing time before the conference tournament.

Both Byerley and Colony head coach Jeremy Johnson said a few key pieces were getting healthy Friday, throwing players into unfamiliar and lengthier roles.

But junior forward Ben Sande was on the field for the Knights, and he proved to be a handful all day.

In the sixth minute, he was fouled in the box, earning the penalty kick. He doinked that chance in off the side post for a 1-0 lead.

“Ben’s our leading scorer,” Johnson said. “He has speed, but he also has the control to go along with that. Those two things are tough to handle.”

If the rest of the half featured anybody, it was SoHi keeper Bailey Jones. In the 18th minute, Harrison Menard set up Sande with a point-blank chance, but Jones made the sprawling save. In first-half stoppage time, Jones again dove to stop a Sande header.

Seventeen minutes into the second half, Jones showed excellent recovery reflexes when he gave up a rebound on a Jake Forstner rocket and sprung back to attention to again thwart Sande.

“(Jones) was good, but at the same time we would have liked to put more shots on frame,” Johnson said. “But against an inferior goalkeeper, it could have been 6 or 7-nil.”

Colony finally began to put the game out of reach in the 58th minute, when Menard played the ball into a crowded box. Forstner somehow waded his way through a mass of bodies to finish a chance from right in front of the goal.

Sande iced the victory with six minutes to play, when SoHi had players up the field for a free kick and that kick went short. Forstner started the counterattack by playing the ball up to Sande, and he weaved in and out of defenders for the goal.

Zach Zmuda had to turn away just a few serious challenges as he earned his eighth shutout of the year in net. Johnson said central defender Brett Hintz did a good job on controlling any threatening action near the Colony net.

Soldotna girls 8, Palmer 1

The host Stars moved to 9-0 by notching the NLC victory over the Moose.

Soldotna had a 5-0 lead just 11 minutes into the game.

The goals came when Makenna Rosin scored directly off a corner kick, Alyssa Wolfe scored on an assist from Miranda Wolfe, Reagan Schoessler scored on assists from Miranda Wolfe and Taryn McCubbins, Miranda Wolfe scored on an assist from Alex Ashe, and Abi Tuttle scored on assists from Schoessler and Miranda Wolfe.

The Stars would then score three more times before the end of the first half. Taylor Wilson scored with help from Miranda Wolfe and Bailey Rosin, Wilson finished a corner from Makenna Rosin, and Brianna Bennett scored from Tuttle.

At the 11-minute mark, Love started shuffling players to different positions, and by the second half, the Stars only had two starters — goalie Maddie Kindred and one central defender — on the field.

While Love was happy with the quick scores, he still thinks his squad could come out and play better passing soccer. He also said the Stars could do better at finishing crosses.

The girls host Kodiak at 3 p.m. Monday.

Soldotna boys 2, Palmer 0

The Stars moved to 8-2 overall with the NLC victory over the Knights.

Ty Fenton made his presence felt after missing the Colony game Friday with a leg injury.

In the 38th minute, he scored in a scrum in front of the goal.

“In this case, you could say he had a nose for the goal,” Byerley said. “The ball smashed off the front of his face and into the goal.”

Fenton then assisted a Bailey Jones goal in the 53rd minute to complete the scoring.

Cameron Knowlton had the shutout in net for the Stars.

SoHi hosts Kodiak at 5 p.m. Monday.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna Varsity Boy's soccer player Ethan Bot and Colony's Jake Forstner fight for the ball at a match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna Varsity Boy’s soccer player Ethan Bot and Colony’s Jake Forstner fight for the ball at a match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion From left to right: Soldotna Varsity Boy's soccer player Charalambos Asimakopoulos, Soldotna's Eli Sheridan, and Colony's Alex Valdez run after the ball at match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion From left to right: Soldotna Varsity Boy’s soccer player Charalambos Asimakopoulos, Soldotna’s Eli Sheridan, and Colony’s Alex Valdez run after the ball at match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

From left to right: Soldotna Boy's Varsity soccer player Austin Craig, Colony's Alex Valdez, and Soldotna's Ben Godfrey chase the ball at match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

From left to right: Soldotna Boy’s Varsity soccer player Austin Craig, Colony’s Alex Valdez, and Soldotna’s Ben Godfrey chase the ball at match on Friday, May 8 at Soldotna High School.

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