Soldotna’s Andrew Arthur (right) celebrates his goal with teammates Owen Buckbee, Zac Buckbee and Nuno Venturi on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Andrew Arthur (right) celebrates his goal with teammates Owen Buckbee, Zac Buckbee and Nuno Venturi on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tuesday soccer: SoHi sweeps Kenai; Homer sweeps Nikiski

The host Soldotna soccer teams swept Kenai Central in Peninsula Conference action Tuesday, with the girls winning 2-1 and the boys winning 2-0.

The Stars girls move to 2-0-0 and 2-0-0, while the Kardinals girls drop to 3-1-1 and 2-1-1. The SoHi boys also are 2-0-0 and 2-0-0, while the Kenai boys are 2-2-0 and 2-2-0.

The girls game was a rematch of the Division II state title game last season, which was won by the Stars.

After a scoreless first half in which Kenai’s Tait Cooper hit a Sarah Baisden cross off the side post, the Kardinals got on the board 11 minutes into the second half when Katie Johnson found Brynnen Hanson.

Just two minutes later, SoHi got level when Kenai committed a hand ball in its penalty area. Morgan Lemm’s penalty kick, drilled into the upper corner, left Kenai goalie Maddie Malone no chance.

Seven minutes later, Soldotna’s Teagen Kobylarz drilled the post on a corner kick from Lemm.

With 11 minutes to play, Kaytlin McAnelly played up the side to Jazzalynn McDonald, who crossed to Emily O’Reagan for the game-winner.

Kenai answered with a number of shots inside the Soldotna penalty area, but could not find the equalizer against SoHi goalie Ryan Queen. Queen is the daughter of Stephanie Queen, who was a junior goalie for Kenai when Verkuilen took over the program in 1999.

“I thought they all played great,” Kenai head coach Dan Verkuilen said of his team. “We had great buildups.

“I mean how many chances did we have? Even in the last five minutes, we probably had 10 chances to pound the ball in.”

Verkuilen said it will be another close year in the rivalry between the two teams.

“We’ve never had a year where somebody was killing the other one,” he said.

SoHi head coach Jimmy Love said the victory was tempered by a head injury to Kendra Rose. Rose walked off the field and Love said he doesn’t know how long she’ll be out.

Love agreed with Verkuilen that Kenai got the better of the chances, saying the Kardinals outplayed the Stars for 60 of the game’s 80 minutes.

The SoHi coach did give the defense credit for holding strong in the face of Kenai’s attack.

“You’ve got to come out and play against the teams that are solid,” Love said. “You can’t just pick and choose when you want to play.

“But we just got lucky today in being able to do that.”

Love said the Stars lost about four key players from last season, but he’s hoping young players can step up and fill vacated roles.

The Stars are captained by Bay Bloom, Alex Lee and Rose, but Love said all the seniors have been doing a good job of leading the team.

Soldotna boys 2, Kenai 0

A flurry at the beginning of the second half was enough to carry the Stars past the Kardinals.

Six minutes into the second half, Nuno Venturi, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, picked up a loose ball in the box and ripped it past Kenai goalie Bradley Morrison.

Just six minutes later, Venturi played a perfect through ball to Andrew Arthur, whose shot clanged in off the far post.

Soldotna coach Erik Dolphin, whose team lost in the Division II state final last season, said it was a typical game with the Kardinals, who won the Peninsula Conference tourney last season.

“Knock down, drag out, hard to score,” Dolphin said. “Both teams are really good defensively.

“Those guys came up big today with finishes. The hardest thing to do in soccer is to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Dolphin said Venturi is a foreign exchange student from Brazil who has come out to play with the team every Sunday since arriving in Alaska.

Luke Hillyer had the shutout for Soldotna. Dolphin said the defense is strong this year with Collin Peck holding down the middle. On the outside is a combination of Owen Buckbee, Jace O’Reagan and Gehret Medcoff.

“Defensively, I think we’re strong,” Dolphin said. “We came into the season saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got a really good team. All we need to do is score goals, because that was our problem last year.’”

Dolphin also was happy with the possession of his team. He credited Lane Hillyer, Johnny Wardas, Zac Buckbee, Simon Willets and Daniel Heath for that possession.

Kenai coach Shane Lopez said he saw a lot to like in the game.

“The game was back and forth,” he said. “Both teams had buildup and opportunities, they just finished theirs. And we had a couple we didn’t finish.”

Lopez was especially happy with the way Kenai responded to the two goals.

“I think we took a lot from the game that will help us moving forward,” Lopez said. “We’re still early in the season.

“It’s still a new group that’s building chemistry together.”

Lopez said he shifted Carson Grimm to the midfield from defense during the game, and Ben Harris and William Wilson did a good job taking over on defense. The coach also said Zane James did a good job overlapping in the midfield, but keeping defensive responsibilities.

Finally, Lopez liked the play of Morrison in goal. Morrison has played the position for just five weeks.

“He’s starting to learn to control the box,” Lopez said. “They just had good shots.”

Homer girls 4, Nikiski 0

The host Mariners notched a Peninsula Conference shutout over the Bulldogs on Tuesday.

Homer is 1-1-1 in the league and 2-1-1 overall, while Nikiski is 0-3-0 and 0-3-0.

Talia Weisser, Goldie Hill, Ruby Hill and Lou Wise scored for the Mariners.

“Played OK, but need to be better to win games going forward,” Homer coach Mike Tozzo wrote in a text message. “We’re not playing well enough to win right now and that’s something us as a team, and I as a coach, need to fix. And soon.”

Nikiski coach Angie Coelho texted that Emma Weeks had 23 saves.

“We made some attempts on goal, but couldn’t sink any,” Coelho wrote. “It was the first game of the season we saw the opportunity to take shots.”

Coelho wrote her pick for player of the game was Milly Hornung.

“She’s a freshman, and I put her in midfield,” Coelho wrote. “It’s obviously a hard spot to play when the ball is on our side so much, but she played hard and had plenty of steals.

“I’m excited to see what these freshmen do.”

Homer boys 8, Nikiski 0

The host Mariners moved to 2-1-0 in the Peninsula Conference and overall with the Tuesday victory over the Bulldogs (0-3-0, 0-3-0).

Nathan Overson had the shutout in net for the Mariners. Tung Tran and Kai Waltenbaugh had a pair of goals, while Rocco Flora, Reid Rauch and Kaiden Bogie also scored.

Nikiski coach Horst Haunold wrote in a text that the Bulldogs scored four goals on themselves.

Kenai Central’s Sarah Baisden dribbles against Soldotna’s Anika Jedlicka on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Sarah Baisden dribbles against Soldotna’s Anika Jedlicka on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Daniel Heath and Kenai Central’s Aloshia Cross battle for the ball Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Daniel Heath and Kenai Central’s Aloshia Cross battle for the ball Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Morgan Lemm tries to turn on Kenai Central’s Tait Cooper on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Morgan Lemm tries to turn on Kenai Central’s Tait Cooper on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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