The Homer High School boys soccer team notched the highest ranking at the state tournament ever made by a Mariners male soccer team, tying with South Anchorage for third place.
Homer held its own against larger schools throughout the tournament, relying on its strong defensive line.
“Compared to the big schools we have a smaller roster, but the boys trained hard all season and got better and better,” said Coach Warren Waldorf. “They went into the tournament determined and focused.”
The Mariners showed up prepared for last Thursday’s quarterfinal game against Service High School. After Quinn Daugharty scored in the first half,s the Mariners smashed the 1-1 tie in the second half with a goal made by Jake Worsfold followed with a goal by Max Mangue two minutes after. The Mariners walked off the field with a proud 3-1 win.
“It feels good for them to continue to discover they are better than they thought earlier on,” said Warren of the Mariner team. “They grew into themselves, through facing success and challenges together and finally playing their best game right at the end.”
Friday’s semifinal game was a defensive battle for Homer against the soon-to-be state champions, Colony High School.
“We had a hard time getting much going against them, but we played great defense and it was difficult for Colony to score against us,” said Waldorf. “We were unable to amount much of an attack against Colony. ... We had our chances but not near as many as they did.”
With their win of 1-0 Colony took Homer’s chance of advancing to the championship round.
The Mariners instead fought for third place against South Anchorage on Saturday, leading in the first half 1-0 from a goal scored by Flynn Bloom.
South tied the score in the second half with a goal ending the game with a 1-1 draw.
It is the standard of the Alaska School Activities Association to only allow penalty kicks or overtime for a tied match at the championship level.
Homer won the sportsmanship award, and Mangue and Daugharty made the All-Tournament team. Filip Reutov and Josh Vantrease were recognized as Good Sport Team athletes.
The Homer Mariners boys soccer team completed the season with a total of 13 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie, racking up a score of 46 goals and allowing 12 goals against them.
Waldorf said when the team arrived back at Homer High the grass on the lower field was removed in preparation for the new turf field. He predicts that the field will be one of the first fields available in the spring for soccer and that will give Homer the opportunity to host competition earlier in the season.
“Because we are playing at such a high level now we will get some good soccer early (next) spring,” said Waldorf.
Shannon Reid is a Homer freelance writer. Joey Klecka of the Peninsula Clarion also contributed to this story.