By JEFF HELMINIAK
Josh Heiber notched his second straight hat trick to lead the Soldotna boys soccer team to a 4-1 victory against Homer last Saturday in Peninsula Conference play at Kenai Central.
The game was moved from Soldotna to Kenai Central due to snow still on the field in Soldotna. SoHi moves to 1-0 in the league and 2-0 overall, while Homer is 1-2 and 1-2.
Soldotna head coach Erik Dolphin said Homer plays very sound defense. He said the Mariners stay compact and are good at keeping possession. This challenged SoHi’s style early on.
The Mariners took the lead in the first half when Hunter Green got his head on a corner kick and it ended up going in the SoHi net off a SoHi defender. About 10 minutes later, Ty Wackler had the game tied on an assist from Heiber.
Dolphin said the Stars had to make several tactical changes to adjust to Homer’s solid, foundational play.
Heiber got SoHi ahead 20 minutes into the second half when he scored on a corner kick from Jose Montague. Less than a minute later, he took the ball in and scored on a solo effort. With about three minutes left, Heiber finished his hat trick when he scored on a direct free kick.
“The guy is one of the most talented players I’ve seen as a player or coach,” Dolphin said.
Dolphin said that, as usual, Aiden Willets was key in the middle of the defense. He said defenders Zac Buckbee and Tyler Johnson also did well on the outside.
“This is a big one,” Dolphin said. “Homer’s had our number the past few years, as has Kenai.”
Homer coach Adam Diaz gave his team credit for playing with an unbelievable will and desire to win.
“My guys need to stay disciplined and finish the game,” Diaz said. “Everybody needs to play offense and defense.”
Homer girls 1, Soldotna 1
The Stars and Mariners played to a Peninsula Conference tie last Saturday. Soldotna is 1-0-1 and 0-0-1, while Homer is 2-0-1 and 2-0-1.
Izzy Dye got the Mariners on the board about midway through the second half with a penalty kick. About five minutes later, Katie Delker equalized on a corner kick from Sierra Kuntz.
Soldotna coach Jimmy Love said Homer is a solid team that plays a similar style to Soldotna’s.
“I think we came out flat,” Love said. “We let Homer run the field on us. It was not until later in the second half that we put the pressure on.”
Love said Homer keeper Felicia Weisser had two incredible saves to keep the score even.
Homer coach Mike Tozzo said Weisser is a sophomore, meaning she has little varsity experience because there was no soccer last season.
“She had a super impressive game,” Tozzo said. “I felt like she accepted the pressure and really stayed calm.”
Tozzo said his whole team did a good job of executing the game plan of trying to contain Soldotna striker Rhys Cannava.
“She’s a great player and has a great supporting cast,” Tozzo said. “Soldotna has a lot to offer.”
Homer was able to play Kappa Reutov full time at forward for the first time. Tozzo said Reutov and center midfielder Izze Dye did well together, with Sela Weisser filling the right side of the field.
“This was a great confidence booster for us,” Tozzo said. “At the conference tournament, we know what’s coming and we know we can compete.”
Houston girls 3, Nikiski 0
The visiting Bulldogs dropped to 0-4 with a loss to the Hawks.
“Our offense shined with over 10 shots on net, they kept the ball forward for most of the game,” Nikiski coach Angie Coelho wrote in an email.
On offense, Coelho wrote Zoey Ellis, Julia Smith, Rosalie Anderson and Cailin Yeager hustled and made the coaches proud.
Emma Weeks played in net for the Bulldogs.
Redington girls 4, Nikiski 0
The visiting Bulldogs dropped to 0-5 with the Saturday loss.
Nikiksi coach Angie Coelho said Serenity Freeman played her first game at sweeper and did well.
“Our team learned a lot over the weekend and has a good idea of where our shortcomings and strong points are,” Coelho wrote in an email. “We’re looking forward to getting on our own field and honing our skills.”
Redington boys 3, Nikiski 1
The visiting Bulldogs fell to 0-4 with the Saturday loss to the Huskies.
Nikiski coach Harrison Deveer said his team played its best game of the season thus far.
“We had a lot of shots on goal but we didn’t finish them,” Deveer said. “Every time they had the opportunity to score, they scored.”
Deveer said Caileb Payne played well at defensive midfield. The coach also said Austin Stafford and Gavin White made some nice combinations up front.
Nikiski got its goal in the second half when Jim Lamping played a free kick up to White, who got the ball to Stafford for the goal.