• Ellert and Gerard each complete a hat trick – plus one
By Sean Pearson
Mariner soccer teams finally got the chance to try out their first grass of the season this weekend as they traveled north to face the Wasilla Warriors and Houston Hawks in Northern Lights Conference action.
And, while the grass was a welcome addition to their game, the brutal wind was not.
Both Homer boys and girls teams dominated against Houston on Friday. The boys picked up an 11-0 shutout, while the girls blanked the Lady Hawks 8-0.
Things would not be quite so easy against the Warriors, as the Mariner boys fell 0-4, and the Lady M’s played Wasilla to a 2-2 tie.
“Houston’s game was a demonstration for us,” said Homer goaltender Grant Arseneau. “It was our first time playing on grass this year and it allowed us to get familiar with how our team mechanics work.
Arseneau said the early season outing also offered the M’s an opportunity to find target players, and identify team strengths and weaknesses.
“In comparison, the Wasilla game was a dose of reality,” he said. “Granted, we were missing three varsity starters and several key players, but it helped show us that we need to take our game more seriously this year.”
Arseneau said two players were on vacation, while junior standout Quinn Daugharty is out for the season due to injury.
The Mariners jumped out to an early lead against the Hawks on Friday, charging out to a 5-0 lead at the half. Peter Ellert went above and beyond “hat trick” status, picking up four goals in the game.
Senior Ethan Kizzia added two goals, while teammates Konstantin Reutov, Drew Brown and Connor McCarron each had one. Reutov also logged three assists.
Even Arseneau got in on the scoring, picking up two goals in the second half after Brown stepped in to take over goal-tending duties. However, Brown suffered a leg injury in the second half and is questionable for Homer’s first home game against Nikiski tomorrow.
Saturday’s wind wreaked havoc on the Mariners’ game against Wasilla, as the Warriors scored three of their four goals in the first half, and sailed away with the 4-0 shutout.
Arseneau said it’s just a matter of working out the bugs and getting everyone to settle down and play their kind of soccer.
“It’s really tough to rebound after a season like last year’s, because we did so well,” Arseneau explained. “But this is now. We have a new team and a new season, but I still think some of last year’s momentum is still there.”
Arseneau said he thinks the team still needs to up their intensity a little if they are wanting to return to State competition this year. “We definitely want to go to State again, but anything is possible at this point,” he said. “It’s kinda like we’re a new team trying to fill the shoes of last year’s big season. We have to find out what works for us, learn from our mistakes and just have fun playing the game.”
In girls’ action, the brutal Saturday wind dictated the flow of action in the Lady M’s tie with Wasilla. Playing with the wind at its back, Homer scored a pair of first-half goals to take a 2-0 lead into the half.
Mady Gerard converted a penalty kick in the sixth minute of the game, taking advantage of an early handball from Wasilla. Gerard notched her second goal of the game in the 36th minute to give Homer a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Wasilla used the wind to their advantage as well, playing with the wind during the final 40 minutes. They forced the tie with a pair of second-half goals, but neither could break the tie by the end of regulation.
Mady Gerard did her part to help her Mariner teammates, finding the net four different times to give Homer a overwhelming win over the Hawks on Friday.
“Winning over Houston and tying with Wasilla were really great ways to start out our season,” Gerard said. “Last year, we lost to Wasilla 2-0, so we were really excited to tie them It showed how far we had come since last year.”
Hope Hudson chipped in two goals, while Maggie Koplin had one goal and four assists.
Homer teams traveled to Soldotna on Tuesday to face the SoHi Stars. However, results from the games were not available by press time.
Boys and girls varsity and junior varsity squads will entertain Nikiski for their first home game on Thursday. Girls varsity and boys JV start at 4 p.m. Boys varsity and girls JV follow at 6 p.m.
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