Story last updated at 3:47 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2002

Homer girls make state soccer tourney

Mariners play Dimond today

by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: sports
Homer girls soccer advance to state tournament.  
It's all about timing.

And the Homer High girls soccer team timed its best soccer of the year perfectly, storming off with a pair of shutout wins in last weekend's Region III championships at Skyview and becoming Homer's first girls soccer team to advance to the state tournament.

In first-round play Friday morning, the Mariners, seeded No. 3, dominated the No. 2 seed Wasilla en route to a 3-0 win. Then, after a few hours break, they came back and outlasted Palmer for a dramatic 1-0 win in the semifinal, a win that clinched Homer its first-ever trip to the Region III girls soccer title game.

On Saturday, the Mariners fell to Colony 4-1 in the championship in a game that looks like more of a footnote after Homer's emotional victory over Palmer.

"It was awesome," striker Carly Garay said of watching Chantrelle Cousins' game-winning goal cross the line with less than two minutes remaining in the game. "We had practiced a (tie-breaker) shootout but we really didn't want it to come to that because there's too much chance involved."

Palmer reached the semifinal by winning a shootout over Kenai, upsetting the No. 1 seeded Kardinals.

Had regulation play ended with a 0-0 score, the Mariners would have faced five-minute overtime session <> not a pretty thought after 160 minutes of soccer in a day. If neither team scored in extra session, a shootout would have decided the match.

But Cousins ended that scenario when she got a foot on Syverine Abrahamson's goal-mouth cross in the 78th minute.

"That was a great game," coach Mickey Todd said. "Both teams had tired legs and the game was back and forth the whole way."

Once the final whistle had blown, the celebration was on. The Mariners had made it to State.

It begins for the Mariners today at 6 p.m. when they play Dimond High of Anchorage, which finished second in the Region IV tourney.

It was all made possible by the 3-0 win over a tough Wasilla team Friday morning. The Warriors had beaten the Mariners 2-1 earlier in the season.

Hannah Baechler fired in a crossing pass from Cousins to open the scoring in the 36th minute.

Early in the second half, Garay scored two goals in two minutes. In both instances, she corralled a through pass and found herself on a breakaway. No one was more surprised than Garay, who said she hadn't had a single breakaway all season until Friday.

Todd gave defensive kudos to Holly McCune, who drew the task of covering Warrior top gun Christie Hayes, and Mariner goalkeeper Chaunna Dietz, who presided over two shutouts.

In the title game, the Mariners played Colony to a 1-1 tie through the first 40 minutes, behind a goal from Garay.

But Colony scored three quick goals early in the second half to ice the conference championship.

Garay said the Mariners were pleased with how they played against a talented Knights team.

"Before, we didn't even get a shot on goal," she said of Colony's 5-0 win over the Mariners earlier this month.