The Mariner girls christened the newly installed turf field with a well-earned win against Nikiski on Tuesday in their first home soccer game of the season. Homer maintained the majority of the ball control in the first half, but their lead decreased during the second half after Nikiski’s offensive presence profited from a few breakaways. The Mariners tightened up and finished the game with a 4-3 win.
Head Coach Mickey Todd commended the passing between the players, and said they aim to play keep away.
“The more we possess the ball the less opportunities the other team has,” he said.
Homer had many scoring opportunities throughout both halves, especially in the beginning and end of the first. Junior Rachell Ellert scored the first goal of the game with an assist from freshman Andie Sonnen.
Todd said the team is working on maintaining aggressive defense and moving the ball in the midfield and offense.
Homer’s constant offensive pressure paid off and 10 minutes before halftime sophomore Desiree Clearly put the second goal into the back of the net. Soon after sophomore Sophia Ramirez-Clark scored the third goal.
With the substantial lead Homer seemed to soften their aggressiveness toward the ball. Unlike the start of the game, Mariners didn’t immediately pressure Nikiski’s goal after their shots.
Nikiski scored off a temporary breakdown in Homer defense, and picked up its second goal off a breakaway from a Mariner offensive corner kick.
“A three goal lead should be sufficient, but not for the game of high school soccer,” said Todd. “Nikiski outscored us in the second half, but the girls never gave up.”
Sophomore Uliana Reutov, who played as the defensive center midfielder, received the ball in Nikiski’s defensive third. She dribbled across from left side of the field and shot, scoring the fourth and final goal for homer.
“When I scored I was more relieved than happy, because we needed another goal,” said Reutov. She said the team learned a lot from their first games in Juneau last week and players are getting used to new positions.
“I’m excited for the season. We’re going to be working together more, with more skill work, playing in the center of the field and using our triangles,” she said. “I’m excited to make it to regions again.
Homer High alumni Teal Laukitis is working with the team as the strength and conditioning coach.
Mariner girls will host a game against Soldotna High School on April 21 at 6 p.m. and Wasilla on April 24 at 4 p.m.