Mariner girls and boys soccer teams are working hard to prepare for the first games of their short but packed season, playing outside earlier than ever thanks to the newly installed artificial turf field.
Both teams will compete against Nikiski on Tuesday at Homer High School. These will be the first soccer games played on the turf field.
The Lady Mariners will play their first three games of the season in Juneau starting today against Thunder Mountain High School. Friday they will compete against Juneau-Douglas High School and will then play Thunder Mountain again on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a good year. The girls have good attitudes and want to be competitive,” said Mickey Todd, head coach of the Lady Mariners. Todd is coaching his 10th season with the Lady Ms and said this year’s team is one of the overall fastest teams he’s coached.
Todd said since the team has been playing on the turf field there have been fewer injuries compared to when the team was training in the gym, and the field has allowed them to increase their number of games.
“We’ve doubled our game schedule, and we will play each team on the Kenai Peninsula twice,” he said.
New to the team is assistant coach Jessie Felice. Felice recently moved from New York where she was previously coaching soccer.
“The girls are having fun, and they like how practices have been set up,” said Felice.
Todd and Felice agree that leadership has been demonstrated by seniors, Aspen Daigle, Tisha Lovett, Jane Rohr and Alexxys Stenson. They said that Samantha Draves, junior and goalie for the team, has also shined as a team leader. Knee pain has kept Draves from playing out on the field.
“She’s back in the net to save her knees and she is an outstanding goalie,” said Todd.
Todd forecasted the team’s first competitors will be one of the top five teams in the state.
“I anticipate a lot of defense in Juneau. It will be a gut check to see who is willing to play hard,” he said.
Head coach for the Mariner boys soccer, Warren Waldorf, is coaching his eighth consecutive season. This year’s team demographics is made mostly from a mix of freshmen and seniors.
Waldorf is anticipating a strong contribution by the freshmen athletes, most of whom have played a lot of soccer before, and from four of his senior players.
“The team is built around Flynn Bloom, Drew Brown, Filip Reutov and Kenneth Schneider,” said Waldorf.
“We have a strong core,” said assistant coach Sue Rennolds, who is coaching for her sixth year. “We want to win at least half of our games.”
The Mariner boys tied for third in state championships last year, and Waldorf says that the players are excited to compete in state again this year.
“It’s a tall order to get through regions this year, and the only way we will be able to do that is if we come together as a team, avoid injuries and academic ineligibility restrictions,” he said. “We need to stay healthy, too.”
Waldorf was happy to see a large portion of the team had worked on pre-season training, and said it has been an adjustment to be playing on the field instead of in the gym so early in the year.
“We’ve never been on the field before April 20,” he said, “It’s forcing us to rewrite the curriculum.”
Both Waldorf and Todd said they are expecting competitive games against Nikiski next Tuesday and invite the Homer community to show support and attend the first home games played on the turf field. Todd said there has always been strong community support, and is hoping for a large turnout of Mariner fans to fill the bleachers.
Nikiski will play Homer varsity girls at 4 p.m. and Mariner varsity boys at 6 p.m.
Shannon Reid is a college student and freelance writer for the Homer News.
Watch them play
Homer v. Nikiski
V Girls @ 4 p.m.
V Boys @ 6 p.m.