The defending Division II state boys soccer champions, the Kenai Kardinals, are staring down the barrel of another shot at the state title.
The Kardinals earned their spot in Saturday’s championship game against Juneau Douglas after winning a fast-paced game against Ketchikan Friday night. Juneau themselves just scraped by with a 1-0 win over the Thunder Mountain boys Friday evening after going into overtime.
Kenai Central 2, Ketchikan 0
Kenai sophomore Leif Lofquist led the charge with both of the evening’s goals. Both came in the second half after an evenly matched first half in which no one could get past the other team’s defense or goalkeepers.
Lofquist’s first goal came about seven minutes after the start of the second half, and his second with just five minutes left in the game. He was named player of the match for Kenai. Apollo Jasper was player of the match for Ketchikan.
Kenai head coach Shane Lopez said it’s nice to be back in the championship game this year.
“It’s always an honor to be in the championship game,” he said. “And a privilege for these guys that not a lot of people get to experience, and it’s one that we’re going to enjoy.”
In addition to Lofquist, Lopez praised his midfielders, defenders and goalkeeper Braedon Pitsch, who made a number of solid saves.
Homer 2, Grace Christian 1
In other peninsula team action, Homer rose above the Grace Christian Grizzlies 2-1 on the Eagle River High School field on Friday. Eyoab Knapp netted both of Homer’s goals — one in the first half and another in the second.
Grace Christian’s Luke Schaezlein scored his team’s lone goal about five minutes into the start of the game, putting Homer at a disadvantage right off the bat.
Knapp was named player of the match for Homer, while Paul Kopp was player of the match for Grace Christian.
“It was a little more challenging today,” head coach Warren Waldorf said of the match. “Because we didn’t have Ethan (Pitzman) today either.”
Top goal scorer Daniel Reutov has been unable to play for the Mariners in the state tournament after being hurt in the Peninsula Conference Championships last weekend. Pitzman rolled his ankle in Thursday’s state tournament game, and Waldorf felt it safer to keep him off it on Friday. Pitzman was named Thursday’s player of the game for Homer.
“We dug ourselves out,” Waldorf said of the Friday game.
The Mariners now move on to play Monroe on Saturday morning for either fourth or sixth place in the state tournament.