• Short season makes for fast and furious play in May
By Sean Pearson
The sun was out, temperatures were above freezing and the field was snow-free as the Homer Lady Mariner soccer team welcomed the Palmer Lady Moose to Senior Night for some Northern Lights Conference soccer action on Friday.
Homer opened the scoring early, as Mady Gerard punched in a goal off a Maggie Koplin assist just three minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Luckily, Homer’s defense held strong, as that would be the only goal the Lady M’s could muster for the day.
“We started off strong and scored quickly,” Gerard said. “I’m really happy with how we played, because we went out on the field feeling confident that we could win.”
Goalkeeper Zoia Basargin had a lot to do with Homer’s strong defense, shutting down the Palmer offense by turning away every shot on goal, and leading her Lady M’s to a 1-0 win.
Coach Mickey Todd noted Basargin’s consistent play, pointing out that she had never played the goal keeper position before this year. She stepped into the job after injuring her ankle, and could no longer get around the field.
A powerhouse Colony team would prove a bit tougher on Saturday, as they pushed past the Lady M’s for a 3-0 victory. The visiting Lady Knights finished their regular season outscoring opponents 51-3.
“Even though we lost to Colony, we all agree it was one of the best games we’ve played all season,” said senior Hope Hudson. “We knew going in that Colony would be the hardest game we’d play, and since we really had nothing to lose, why not play our best?”
“Well a loss is a loss, but at least we held them scoreless in the second half,” she said. “I think we played our hardest against Colony because we knew they were a stronger team. But we made them work for it.”
Hudson said playing so well against the stronger Colony team was a really good confidence-booster and big mental step for the team.
“I’m extremely proud of how everyone played this weekend,” Hudson said. “Our defense was amazing, everyone hustled, and we were possessing the ball and connecting on passes. I think we’ll face other teams with a lot more confidence now, which will be important going into Regions.”
Gerard said she thinks the Lady Mariners’ conditioning will also play a huge factor in the team’s success in post-season play.
“I mean, we can always build up more stamina and strength, but I think we’re all in pretty good shape,” she said. “
The Lady Mariners now sit at 4-3-1 for the season.
Mariner Peter Ellert got the ball rolling for the Homer Boys on Friday, scoring against the Moose some 16 minutes into the game off an assist by Carson Duggar. The 1-0 Homer lead held up until the end of the first half, when Palmer sneaked a shot past Homer goalkeeper Grant Arseneau with three minutes left.
Both teams stepped up their defensive effort in the second half, with neither scoring until Duggar’s game-winning goal in the 64th minute. It would give the M’s 2-1 Northern Lights Conference victory.
Saturday’s battle against Colony would end in a disappointing 1-4 loss for the Mariners. Konstantin Reutov scored Homer’s only goal.
Despite the loss, however, Duggar said he thinks the team played well over the weekend.
“We battled the adversity of key players being injured and still finished with a win over Palmer,” he said. “We have very good team speed and a grit to our game. We will never give up no matter how high the odds are against us.”
Duggar also voiced disappointment in the length of the soccer season — or lack thereof.
“It’s very frustrating having such a short season,” he said. “I feel like we just got started.”
Homer moves to 4-3-1 overall, and heads to Region play in Soldotna starting Thursday.
“We’re going into this week a confident group preparing for regions, in hopes of clinching a berth at State,” Duggar said.
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