After making it farther than they ever have before, the Soldotna girls soccer team finished second at the Division II state soccer championships in a 5-1 loss to Juneau on Saturday.
The Juneau-Douglas Bears came out strong on Saturday, scoring two goals within in the first 23 minutes of the game. Rhys Cannava made SoHi’s lone goal with about a minute left in the first half.
When players returned to the field for the second half, the Stars couldn’t keep Juneau’s offense out, and the Bears netted three more goals.
Eva Goering scored the first goal for Juneau, followed by Blake Plummer. In the second half, Malia Miller netted the fourth and sixth goal, while Plummer again got the fifth.
Soldotna head coach Jimmy Love said it just wasn’t their game on Saturday.
“They’re a good team,” he said of Juneau. “It was the three balls (in the second half), you know? We were just not playing it right, and it is what it is.”
“At the end of the day, you know what, we played hard and we just came up short,” he continued.
Love has a relatively young team, with three or four freshman starters. This gives him high hopes for making it to state championships in the future.
“We’re losing a good groups of seniors but I expect this team to be back in a similar boat next year,” he said. “Overall, it took us a while to get started, but once we got the ball rolling we ended the season as we should, and that was hitting on all cylinders.”
Homer 3, North Pole 2
With a 3-2 win over North Pole on Saturday, the Lady Mariners claimed fourth overall at the state tournament. Kappa Reutov scored two of Homer’s goals while Rylee Doughty contributed one.
Head coach Mike Tozzo said the team’s goal entering the tournament was to make it to the championship game, but that their performance in the Thursday game wasn’t what it needed to be.
“I was glad that we were able to bounce back,” he said of their wins against Palmer and North Pole.
The team worked hard to get here all season, Tozzo said, and he anticipates them improving a little each year. The program is being supported particularly well right now by large groups of freshmen joining every year, he said.
Thunder Mountain 3, Kenai 1
The Lady Kardinals landed at fifth place in the state tournament overall with a 3-1 loss to Thunder Mountain on Saturday.
Alyssa Bucho scored Kenai’s lone goal on a crossed assist from Bethany Morris in the second half of the game.
Head coach Dan Verkuilen said Kenai had hoped to do better than fifth overall but that he’s really proud of how the girls played throughout the weekend.
Thursday’s game went into overtime and ended with a win. By Saturday’s game against Thunder Mountain, Verkuilen said the team was missing a senior who had been injured.
“(We were) just a little beat up,” “So they fought hard and they enjoyed the game.”
Soldotna 3, Thunder Mountain 1
The Stars prevailed 3-1 over Thunder Mountain in Friday’s semifinal match, propelling them to the final game on Saturday, in which they will face off against Juneau-Douglas at 2 p.m. at Service High School.
No matter what, the Stars will have the best finish in school history. Before soccer was broken into divisions, SoHi finished third at state in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Last season, the Stars were third at Division II state.
“I expected a tight game,” Love said after the Friday game. “The two previous games were fairly close. … I don’t think we came out and played the way I expected us to play.”
Love said he thought the players let Thunder Mountain’s goal, the first of the game, get to them more than they usually do.
“It took us a while to kind of get that momentum back,” he said.
Scoring for Soldotna were Faith Glassmaker, Meijan Leaf and Rhys Cannava.
Juneau 5, Kenai 0
The Juneau girls beat Kenai Central in a Friday morning semifinal game 5-0 to secure their spot in the championship match. Kenai Central will play Thunder Mountain for third place at 9:45 a.m. at West Anchorage.
Verkuilen said he thought the girls played well considering they don’t have much experience against Juneau.
“We changed our formation today,” he said. “… We took away one forward and we put in an extra defender so we kind of got on No. 11 and did a good job of kind of shutting her down.”
Homer Mariners 4, Palmer 0
After falling 1-0 to Thunder Mountain on Thursday, the Mariners faced off against the Palmer Moose on Friday and came out victorious. The Lady Mariners had a shutout against the Moose to win 4-0.
Kappa Reutov scored the first two goals for the Mariners, while Debbie Weisser and Sienna Carey netted one each in the second half.
“We came out a little bit more aggressive (than in the Thursday game),” Tozzo said. “Not even a little bit — a lot more aggressive.”
He said the team had more energy and better communication on Friday against Palmer.
“We’d been struggling with scoring,” he said of the team’s last few games. “And part of that was playing underneath the defense instead of over the top of them. In the past we were trying to, like, make our forwards do all the work and play below the defense. And (today) we did a good job of getting the ball out in front of them and letting them run.”