Without scoring a goal, the members of Homer High School’s girls soccer team managed to beat Peninsula Conference adversary Kenai Central High School for the first time in 19 years, according to Kenai’s coach.
When Homer’s Raisa Basargin played the ball up to the Kenai goal in the 27th minute of the first half, a Kenai player accidentally tipped it back into the back of the Kenai net, securing the crucial moment in the host Mariners’ 1-0 victory.
Kenai coach Dan Verkuilen credited the high winds and his team’s extreme youth this year as factors in the loss.
“I thought they outplayed them, it’s just the wind was the factor in the game one way and the other,” he said. “We had a lot of shots, chances. They’re just kind of a little anxious yet.”
Homer head coach Mike Tozzo said that, no matter why his team won the game, it was an important win for them against a conference team.
“I feel like we had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on,” Tozzo said. “So that’s something that we need to continue to work on. Yeah, did we technically score a goal in this game? No, we didn’t. But, things happen and after the goal the next thing we had to do was play quality team defense. … Kenai’s a good team, and they’re not going to come in here and just stop playing because they scored on themselves.”
Tozzo credited Kenai’s team for not giving up and for continuing to press the Mariners hard for the rest of the game. His players did, however, execute what he wanted them to in the second half of the game.
“They did exactly what we had planned in the second half, and that was to allow the long ball through the box, if that’s that they (Kenai) did, and keep the ball on the ground and keep control of the pace of the game,” Tozzo said.
Tozzo noted that throughout the game, the Mariners had trouble finishing. They set each other up several times for goals that didn’t come to fruition. It’s something that sometimes happens, he said.
“It’s kind of been an issue for this team since I took over a couple years ago, so you know it’s just something we have to work on, and do work on every day,” Tozzo said. “It’s just finishing.”
Homer’s varsity girls next play Wasilla in an away game on Saturday. Since it’s a nonconference game against a highly talented competitor, Tozzo said he’s looking for his girls to gain some practice and witness some great soccer.
“My three goals are going to be our movement, our passing and our communication,” he said. “And if we’re making passes and we’re moving all the time, and our communication is good, I don’t really care if we win or loose against Wasilla.”
The Homer boys didn’t fair as well Tuesday, losing their game against Kenai 6-2. Through rain, howling wind and hail, the boys struggled to keep Kenai’s Zack Tuttle from racking up the points. Tuttle, last year’s Northern Lights Conference Conference Player of the Year before the Kardinals moved to the Peninsula Conference this season, notched five of Kenai’s six goals. Freshman Leif Lofquist made the other at the 36-minute mark in the second half.
The game took a turn in the second half, after Homer established dominance early on with a goal from senior Charles Rohr seven minutes into the first half, and another goal made by Simon Dye after a Kenai penalty.
Homer started the day with two of its starting players out sick, said head coach Warren Waldorf. Then another key player, Daniel Reutov, came off the field during Tuesday’s game with an ankle injury. The team sent him to the doctor and are waiting for word back, Waldorf said.
“He’ll be out for a while it looks like,” the coach said.
“And then we just let a good player score five goals. What are you gonna do, you know?” Waldorf continued. “Hopefully we can fix that next time.”
Kenai head coach Joel Reemtsma said his team always expects a tight match when they travel to Homer.
“They’re just a very good team. They pass the ball, they move the ball well, and so it’s always a battle,” he said. “So we never take anything for granted.”
Reemtsma credited his players with keeping up their mental strength, which he said helped them come back from Homer’s two goals and to play hard during the tough weather conditions. With the wind blowing strong in one direction the entire time, Reemtsma called the game a “tale of two halves.”
He also said his players did a good job of winning balls that were in the air and at being physical during the game.
“We definitely wanted to pressure them,” Reemtsma said. “We know they like to pass the ball and they’ll move over the pitch, so it’s all about taking those options away. We try to filter guys forward and take options away so that they have nowhere to go with that.”