What was supposed to be a tight rivalry game Tuesday afternoon turned into a lopsided win for the Kenai Central girls soccer team over Soldotna at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai.
The Kardinals scored three goals in the first 10 minutes and walked away with a 7-2 victory over the Stars. Kenai seniors Lara Creighton and Cassi Holmes each scored twice to lead the Kards in their best offensive performance of the year thus far.
“I’ll have a smile on my face for the rest of the week,” Creighton said.
Kenai put 13 shots on goal throughout the game, while Soldotna used a late surge to finish with 12, but the damage was done early. Ella Stenga and Abi Tuttle recorded SoHi’s pair of goals.
Kenai got scoring from five different players, as senior Savannah Clark, sophomore Paulyne Catacutan and senior Samantha Morse each added goals to the two by Creighton and Holmes.
Kenai head coach Dan Verkuilen said he was happy with the way his Kards answered the call against a tough rival and won most of the midfield battles and 50-50 balls.
“We’re kind of getting to that point in the season when we start to see people getting in position and understanding their role on the team,” said Verkuilen.
Kenai improved to 4-2 overall, while SoHi dropped to 2-3 overall.
SoHi head coach Jimmy Love had no answers to what happened with his team.
“I’m disappointed with the way we played,” he said. “It’s not at all what we’re capable of.
“I need to get my head fixed so I’m ready for tomorrow.”
The Kardinals spared no time in building up a lead. Clark opened the scoring from long range just three minutes into the game, and Creighton used an assist from Morse just three minutes later to slip by SoHi goalie Abby Kruse. Just before the 10-minute mark, Morse intercepted a pass from a Soldotna defender and had plenty of time to set up Holmes for a goal, making it 3-0.
“It was (important),” Creighton said about Kenai’s strong start. “It set the pace for how we played the rest of the game.”
Stenga answered for Soldotna in the 28th minute, getting a cross from Tuttle and booting the ball past Kenai goalkeeper Kailey Hamilton from over 30 yards out, but the Stars had trouble keeping the momentum going.
Kenai responded with two minutes left in the first half on a goal from Catacutan, giving Kenai a 4-1 lead at halftime.
Morse scored with help from Clark three minutes into the second half, and Holmes and Creighton got their second goals of the game in the 69th and 71st minutes, respectively. Tuttle scored for SoHi in the final minute of the game.
Soldotna will get a chance at redemption today in Homer, with the girls game starting at 4 p.m. and the boys kicking off at 6. The Kenai soccer teams will travel to Homer on Saturday for a pair of games at 2 and 4 p.m.
Kenai boys 4, Soldotna 1
The Kenai boys soccer squad started slow but finished fast Tuesday evening against their rivals from Soldotna.
Zack Tuttle provided two goals for Kenai, which also got scores from Luke Beiser and Damien Redder. SoHi’s lone goal came from sophomore Tanner Craig in the second half.
After leading 1-0 at halftime and with just five shots on goal, Kenai jumped on Soldotna in the second half, attacking the Stars with a rejuvenated dose of intensity.
“I liked the pressure we had in the second half,” said Kenai head coach Joel Reemtsma. “That’s how we were supposed to start (the game).”
Kenai moved to 4-1 overall, while the Stars are 1-3 overall. Soldotna assistant coach Erik Dolphin said early mistakes by the Stars in the second half put the team in a hole too large to overcome.
“All the effort and intensity was there,” Dolphin said. “But a lot of times, it’s a focus thing.”
Dolphin added that starting sophomore goalkeeper Kameron Hanson, who saved three of four shots on goal in 27 minutes of action, was pulled after the coaches got a good look at his abilities between the posts. Hanson exited the game in the 28th minute in favor of Chase Miller, who finished the game out with seven of 10 total shots saved. Kenai ended with a 14-6 shots advantage over SoHi.
Beiser got things going for Kenai with a sliding kick in the goal box in the 26th minute that put the Kardinals up 1-0.
Kenai’s increase in offensive pressure in the second half was soon rewarded with a goal by Tuttle in the 50th minute. Tuttle received a through ball from the midfield and raced up the left side on a charge to the goal, slipping by SoHi goalie Miller to get a clean shot on net for a 2-0 lead. Tuttle scored again three minutes later on a cross from Karl Danielson.
The Stars cut the lead to 3-1 in the 66th minute on a goal from Craig, who was perfectly positioned to deflect a shot in from Ben Godfrey.