Soccer roundup: Kenai girls, boys; Homer girls all win on senior night

Kenai Central’s Wade James celebrates his goal in the first half against Soldotna at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Clarion Peninsula)

The Kenai Central girls’ and boys’ soccer teams celebrated seniors night by sweeping Soldotna on an extremely windy afternoon at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai on Friday.

The Kenai Girls won 2-1 to finish second in the Peninsula Conference regular season, 3-2-1 in the league and 7-5-2 overall. The Stars finish third in the league and are 2-3-1 and 6-5-2.

The Cardinals boys also achieved a 2-1 win, scoring two goals from junior Wade James. Kenai finishes the regular season first in the league with 6-0 and 8-5-2 while the Stars are second with 4-2 and 5-6-1.

The Kenai girls honored seniors Leah Fallon, Gabriella Tews, Kate Harris, Valerie Villegas and manager Joyce Trenton.

Kenai girls coach Dan Verkuilen praised Villegas, a captain, for stabilizing the defense after Bay Bloom, assisted by Morgan Lemm, scored just five minutes into the game. The Stars scored that goal into the wind.

“I thought Val did a really good job as a sweeper today after that first goal,” said Verkuilen. “She really held her position and made a really nice move.

“Actually, I thought that the entire defense did a really good job.”

After Soldotna’s goal, the Kards spent more and more time on Soldotna’s side.

In the 33rd minute, Kylie Verkuilen got control of a bouncing ball near the top of the box and hammered a wind-assisted shot into the right side of the net.

In the 42nd minute, Kori Moore played the ball into the box and Sarah Baisden got a foot on it, the wind putting the ball back into the net.

The challenge for the Cardinals in the second half was to hold the lead upwind.

“Moving the ball through this wind is always difficult,” said Verkuilen. “We just talked about solid contacts and using the outside ways – inside-outside ways, then just push up.”

Kenai goalie Maddie Malone had to deal with an extremely difficult wind-assisted shot that she just missed. Otherwise, Kenai kept the chances to a minimum.

Soldotna coach Jimmy Love was not satisfied with his team’s game after the opening goal. That included the second half.

“I think it was just trying to do too much instead of just playing a simple game,” Love said. “I would have thought we’d done some recordings, but we didn’t do any of it.

“We’ve talked about it, but talking is cheap.”

Kenai boys 2, Soldotna 1

The Cardinals had the wind in the first half and came on the board in the 38th minute when Joe Hamilton played a free-kick into the box and Wade James headed the ball into the goal.

Just past the middle of the second half, James shook himself loose and scored again.

With about seven minutes to go, the Stars earned a penalty and Zac Buckbee converted, but SoHi couldn’t find the equaliser.

Kenai coach Shane Lopez said Gavin Langham put on a great game in goal, but Lopez wanted to focus on seniors Koda Poulin, Sam Baisden and Joe Hamilton’s play.

Lopez said this was the first group he had as a coach throughout his high school career. The coach said the group has seen everything from winning a Division II state title as freshmen to losing their second season to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a lot of great memories with these guys and definitely a lot of challenges over the years to see them grow into better men and leaders,” Lopez said. “We always emphasize the better men first and foremost.

“These are all great guys who I admire a lot.”

Soldotna coach Erik Dolphin said the wind made for a strange, unpredictable game, but he added that some things went as expected.

“Before the game I said we need to score two goals to win and they scored two goals and won,” he said.

Dolphin said Maleda Denbrock had a great game up front despite drawing a lot of attention from Kenai while Buckbee was solid in midfield.

“They’re a really good team and well trained,” Dolphin said of Kenai. “They played better than us and deserved to win.”

Homer Girls 3, Houston 0

The host Mariners advanced to 10-4-2 with a non-conference win over the Hawks on senior night.

Sela Weisser had a hat trick and Felicia Weisser had the shutout.

The Mariners honored seniors Debbie Weisser, Sela Weisser, Olivia Glasman, Ava Halstead, Maddox Berg, Mariah McGuire and Serena Fankhauser. Kappa Reutov, a consistent goalscorer who missed the season with a knee injury, was also honored.

“The seniors are all good kids who run this team and work really well together,” said Homer coach Mike Tozzo. “They’ve been playing together for a long time.

“They’re a group that came together from middle school and that led to really good football.”

Soldotna's Zayra Poage and Kenai Central's Chloe Goldsby battle for the ball on Friday, May 13, 2022 at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Clarion Peninsula)

Soldotna’s Zayra Poage and Kenai Central’s Chloe Goldsby battle for the ball on Friday, May 13, 2022 at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Clarion Peninsula)


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