Story last updated at 12:16 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2002

Girls top Grace, Seward
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: sports
  Photo by Joel Gay, Homer News
Sarah Manalisay, a sophomore halfback for Homer High School, heads the ball during the Mariners' 8-4 victory over Grace Christian School on Thursday.  
The high school soccer season started last week and <> don't blink <> by Saturday it will be half over.

With no time to waste, the Homer High School girls soccer team hit the ground running last week, pumping in eight goals in each of their first two games.

The Mariners knocked off Grace Christian 8-4 on Thursday and routed Seward 8-0 on Friday, both at home.

Goals were tougher to come by on Saturday as the Mariners traveled to Nikiski and played to a 1-1 tie against the Bulldogs, giving Homer a solid 2-0-1 start to the season.

Mariner coach Mickey Todd said he was pleased to see his team get off to such an aggressive start against Grace and Seward.

"We like to try and take the ball to (our opponents) because very few teams can match our team speed," Todd said of his squad's over-the-top passes to speedy strikers Chantrelle Cousins and Carly Garay. "Mostly we try to play a 'through-ball' to the green space and let them run to it."

The strategy was on target as Cousins and Garay combined for nine goals over three games.

Garay found the back of the net six times during the first two matches, with back-to-back hat tricks. Cousins scored two goals in two minutes against Grace while Syverine Abrahamson and Holly McCune each had a goal and an assist.

Meanwhile, Amanda Connolly netted a hat trick of her own against Seward, Lindsay Horst blasted in a penalty kick and Hannah Baechler added the last Mariner goal.

Saturday's 1-1 affair at Nikiski was a different story, Todd said.

"We played at 10 in the morning and the girls were sleeping till 11," Todd said.

For the first 25 minutes, the Bulldogs carried the play, with Amanda Weaver netting their goal in the 25th minute.

But that was enough to wake the Mariners up as Cousins scored the equalizer a few minutes later. Despite carrying the play for the rest of the game and giving up zero shots in the second half, the Mariners were unable to beat Bulldog goalie Karen Rabung.

"We knocked it of the crossbar twice , hit the uprights twice but just couldn't find the back of the net," Todd said.

Todd said the highlight of the day came in the junior varsity game, when Mariner keeper Paola Benitez came out of the net and scored on penalty kick as Homer rolled to a 3-0 win.

The Mariners will face a tough test when they travel Thursday to the Matanuska and Susitna valleys for games against Wasilla, Colony and Houston.