The Soldotna girls soccer program broke out of their slump Friday afternoon in a big way, and did so by breaking out the hats.
After two straight road losses to Northern Lights Conference opponents, the Stars rolled Kodiak in a 7-0 NLC victory at Justin Maile Field. SoHi freshman Ryann Cannava and senior Elena Bramante both notched hat tricks to lead the home team. Cannava completed the first hat trick of her prep career in the final minute of the game.
“It was nice,” Cannava said, adding that SoHi came out determined to get off the schneid with an early charge.
“I think we were just tired of losing.”
Saturday, the SoHi girls returned to the turf to beat Kodiak 7-1, getting two goals apiece from Cannava and Haley Buckbee. The Stars improved to 4-4 overall on the year and 1-1 in the conference. Friday’s game did not count for region seeding.
Friday’s win provided relief for Soldotna, which had fallen in two straight stunners — a 7-2 loss to Kenai Central on Tuesday and a 2-1 loss to Homer on Wednesday. The Homer loss was the first one in years for the SoHi girls to their southerly neighbors, and SoHi coach Jimmy Love credited his team’s ability to rebound after their recent struggles, but added there are still areas to improve on.
“It was nice to get the win, but I don’t know if it would be good enough to beat Kenai and Colony,” he said.
The Stars dominated up front with 15 shots on goal to Kodiak’s one, but the midfield possession was a little more even between the two sides.
Soldotna was also playing without senior striker Abi Tuttle, who missed the game for school reasons, Love said. Cannava said Tuttle’s absence made for an unusual feel on offense, but the spark was still there.
“It’s hard, sometimes it felt like we had no one up there,” Cannava said.
Cannava had junior Whitney Wortham up front early in the game when the two paired up for a goal in the first minute. Wortham’s cross in the goal box found Cannava, who launched a shot to the keeper that bounced off her mitts and into the netting.
Wortham scored just two minutes later with help from Cannava on a through ball at close range, giving SoHi a quick 2-0 lead. Bramante made it 3-0 by halftime with a header off a Journey Miller corner kick in the 26th minute.
Cannava notched her second goal of the game three minutes into the second half, and Bramante added her second in the 49th minute and her third in the 64th. Finally, Cannava finished her hat trick in the 80th minute.
SoHi senior Abby Kruse earned the shutout in goal for Soldotna.
Lacey Hernandez started the game in goal for Kodiak, but had to be helped off the field in the second half with an injury. Hernandez stopped six of 11 shots before her exit, and backup goalie Cassie Scherler stopped two of four shots the rest of the way.
Saturday, Cannava again started the scoring with an assist from Meijan Leaf two minutes in. Trinity Ames scored with help from Cannava in the fourth minute, and Wortham teamed up with Miller to make it 3-0 in the 17th minute. A goal from Buckbee in the 24th minute led to a 4-0 halftime lead.
In the second half Saturday, the Stars got goals from Buckbee on a corner kick from Miller, Cannava from Buckbee and Miller, who converted on a corner kick in the 72nd minute to give SoHi a commanding 7-0 lead. Kodiak scored on a penalty kick in the waning minutes.
Soldotna boys 4, Kodiak 0
The SoHi boys prevailed in an aggressive NLC contest Friday evening over Kodiak to complete the home sweep by the girls and boys teams.
Junior Eli Sheridan scored two goals in another offensive production with freshman Alex Montague and junior Luke Trammel, who added a goal apiece. Junior Chase Miller earned the shutout in goal by warding off seven shots.
SoHi returned Saturday to topple Kodiak again in a 5-2 game. Sheridan again notched two scores, while Trammel, Montague and Sean McMullen each had one goal. Soldotna improved to 3-4 overall with the win, and 1-1 in the NLC South Division.
Friday’s game were characterized by aggressive play from the outset, which ramped up in intensity in the second half. Soldotna head coach Darryl Byerley called it no harm, no foul.
“Each team has their own style,” Byerley said. “It was a good shoulder-to-shoulder game, and it’s only up to the center referee to modulate the game.”
Like the girls team, the SoHi boys found victory at the right time to break a mini-slump. The Stars fell in a 4-1 loss to Kenai on Tuesday, then followed it up with a 4-3 loss to Homer on Wednesday.
Friday painted a much different picture, as Byerley said he was pleased to see contributions from different players around the field.
“This is one of our first games where we put together two full 40-minute halves,” he said.
Kodiak appeared to strike first just five minutes in, but the goal was called off for an offsides judgement.
The swing of momentum appeared to go SoHi’s way, as a flurry of goals put SoHi up 3-0 at halftime. A free kick by Sheridan in the 23rd minute took an off bounce and landed in the net to put the home team up 1-0, and Trammell added a second goal in the 27th minute on a direct kick from the left side of the goal box. The kick glanced off Sheridan before Trammell was able to send it home.
Sheridan notched his second score of the game in the 29th minute by beating a defender to the goal.
Montague got in on the action in the second half with a long strike from about 30 yards out that landed in the netting in the 52nd minute.
In Saturday’s win over Kodiak, Trammell got the scoring going 10 minutes in with an assist from Montague, but Kodiak responded with an equalizer five minutes later. The Stars led 2-1 at the break thanks to a late penalty kick by Sheridan, whose initial shot was blocked, but still ended up scoring on the rebound attempt.
Kodiak tied the game up again about seven minutes into the second half, but SoHi answered five minutes later on an unassisted strike by Sheridan. Soldotna capped the contest with two insurance goals, one from Montague in the 65th minute and another from Sean McMullen two minutes after that.