Last weekend’s sunny weather ignited great Mariner play with two shutouts against Seward and Soldotna, giving Homer practice at dominating the offensive side of the field. The empowering last home games of the season will give Homer momentum going into Regionals, which will be held in Wasilla over Memorial Weekend.
Mariners finished with finesse against Seward during Friday’s game, blasting five goals shot into the back of the net by Maggie Koplin, Sofia Ramirez-Clark, Megan Pitzman and Sam Draves.
The strong lead allowed Head Coach Mickey Todd an opportunity to try athletes out in different positions. Without much action on the Mariner’s defensive side even the four-year goalie, senior Rachel Doan, got a rare chance to switch out and play offensive striker.
“It’s a lot different up there. It makes me realize how hard everyone else works and it makes me appreciate them a lot more,” said Doan. She played a full half as striker, and was hoping for a goal but had to settle for an assist.
Doan credited the last four consecutive game shutouts to her defense.
“They work their tails off so I don’t have to,” she said.
Todd assures Doan will be back in the goal for Regions.
Koplin, a senior, accomplished her first header goal during the first half of the game.
“I was really stoked about that,” she said. “I had a second opportunity, but it shot over the net.”
Homer’s dominance over Soldotna on Saturday was displayed by a final 9-0 score, with many connected passes and offensive pressure. Shots were connected by Koplin, Mady Gerard, Draves, Ramirez-Clark, Aspen Daigle, Katie Tumsuden and Uliana Reutov.
“We played really well,” said Todd. “Seward and Skyview are weaker teams so it let us play a game of possession, rather than one that’s panicked and that makes a huge difference.”
Saturday, the last home game of the season, also included a senior ceremony. Zoia Basargin, Hannah Baird, Koplin, Doan and Gerard were celebrated for each of their four years of dedicated soccer.
The team is looking forward to Regions and Gerard is crossing her fingers for advancement past the first round.
“I feel confident going into Regions. We just need to stay focused,” she said.
Both JV and varsity tied 0-0 with their Kenai opponents on Thursday. The JV won over Kodiak Saturday with a 3-1 final score and shots scored by Reutov, Pitzman and Draves.
Shannon Reid is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.