All it took was one goal, but the Soldotna boys soccer team is headed to State for the first time in four years. The Stars did it by beating Homer 1-0 in the third-place game at the Northern Lights Conference tournament Saturday at the Kenai Soccer Complex.
“It was definitely a goal for us at the beginning of the season, and we definitely played two tough teams the last two games, with Wasilla and Homer back to back,” Soldotna Coach Jeff Siemers said. “We give a lot of credit to Homer, they created a lot of good opportunities, and Kayne had a great day in goal.”
SoHi goalkeeper Kayne North saved all 18 shots on goal that the Mariners sent his way, 12 of those coming in the second half.
In the second half of the final game at Regions, the Mariners’ boys soccer team funneled all the season’s energy and crammed it into the last 40 minutes of play.
“We got everyone on the field that we could in that last game and everyone gave it their all,” said Head Coach Warren Waldorf.
In the third place qualifying game at Regions, Soldotna was up 1-0 by halftime. The top three teams at Regions advance to State Tournament. The Mariners went to State last year and wanted to go back. It had been four years since Soldotna has gone to State.
Homer made 12 shots on goal in the
second as compared to Soldotna’s five, yet the Stars were able to keep the Mariners at bay, winning the game by a slim margin to advance to State.
“We were all over Soldotna in the second half and had a lot of opportunities. They were lucky they got away with a win. We wish the best of luck for them at State,” said Waldorf.
This hard loss comes after two tumultuous games at Regions. On Thursday, the Mariners shutout Grace Christian 3-0. According to the rankings, the Mariners had to win the first game if they wanted to continue playing in the tournament.
“We won our first game at Regions and that is the third time in six years,” said Waldorf.
Carson Duggar made the first goal in the first half, Drew Brown scored the second goal early in the second half with an assist from Duggar, and Manu Spigno finished the game with a goal assisted by Kenneth Schneider.
Homer’s win put them in the bracket up against State Championship contenders Colony. The Mariners lost 4-0.
The team finished the season with a 5-5-1 record; a number to be proud of in Waldorf’s book.
“We achieved our goal to go 500 this season so that was good,” said Waldorf.
The team says goodbye to six graduating seniors and an exchange student, but not all is lost with many new underclassmen soccer players on the horizon.
“It will be exciting to see the new players next year. Every year is a new year,” said Waldorf.
Lady Mariners lose first game
The Colony girls soccer team heads into state as the top seed from the Northern Lights Conference, Soldotna will be second and Grace Christian will be third after defeating Kenai Central 1-0 in the third-place game.
The Lady Mariners entered Regions with a strong record, but were knocked out early. Grace Christian beat Homer 5-1 in the first game of the tournament. The tournament ends the girls’ season, seeing four seniors off.