• Homer girls finish fourth, just short of tourney berth
By Sean Pearson
Mariner forward Drew Brown searched for the right words to describe Homer’s third-place finish at the Northern Lights Conference Soccer Tournament in Wasilla over the weekend.
“It was — impressive. Exhilarating. It was surprising,” Brown said. “It made us realize that when we all train hard and work together, we can compete and be victorious over most, if not all, of the teams around the state.”
Brown, a junior, scored the Mariners’ opening goal of the tourney, leading the team to a 3-0 shutout of Palmer.
All he wanted to talk about, however, was the toughness of his teammates on defense.
“I think our defense is one of the best in the state — and our strongest point,” Brown said of his back line. (Or “tenacious d,” as the team likes to call them.) “They only allowed nine goals against the entire season, and our offense scored 42. That gives us an impressive goal differential.”
Homer finished the regular season with a 10-1 record; their only loss coming at the hands of Colony. Including Region games, they are now 12-2.
Much of the credit, Brown maintains, goes to the four Mariners in the back:
Flynn Bloom, John Walsworth, Kaec Brinster and Filip Reutov generally guard the Mariner flanks for goalkeeper Brian Rowe. Reutov stepped in recently to fill a spot left by an injured Josh Vantrease.
The fabulous foursome — and Rowe — allowed only one goal the entire tournament, and that was in the M’s 1-0 loss to Wasilla.
Homer entered the conference tourney as the top seed from the South, and made short work of Palmer in the opening game.
After Brown scored his goal, Reutov knocked in a header off a corner kick, and Max Mangue followed up with a goal in the 57th minute.
With the win, Homer faced Wasilla in Friday evening’s semifinals. Despite a strong offensive push, the M’s couldn’t find the back of the net, and fell 0-1 to the Warriors. They would go on to defeat the Kenai Kardinals 3-0 to finish third in the tournament overall.
Mangue scored two goals in Homer’s win over Kenai; senior Quinn Daugharty scored the other.
Brown said the team will probably have a short practice on Tuesday, before heading up to Anchorage on Wednesday. The Mariners face Service High School in the first round of play on Thursday. If Homer wins, they will play the winner of the Colony/Wasilla game.
Brown said there are a few things he thinks the team could still improve before their first game.
“We need to work on our composure in the middle of the field, as well as our ball possession,” he said. “From what I’ve seen over the past month of soccer, that is our biggest weakness.”
The Mariners have not played Service this year, but Brown said he has “heard a few things” about who their key players are.
“So, we’ll adjust ourselves to shut them down,” he explained.
Homer girls also opened the tournament with a win. Seeded No. 3 out of the South, the Lady M’s upset Northern Division No. 2 seed Grace Christian 3-2.
The Lady Grizzlies beat Homer in the first round of last year’s tourney, and tore through the M’s 6-0 earlier in the season.
Seniors Mady Gerard and Maggie Koplin scored early, giving the Lady Mariners a 2-0 lead. Grace answered with a goal right before the break.
But Gerard found the back of the net just eight minutes into the second half, and pushed Homer to a 3-1 advantage. Grace scored another goal with 10 minutes left in the game, but Homer defense was able to shut down Grace scoring, and held on for the win.
Coming off Thursday’s upset against Grace, the Lady Mariners crashed hard in Friday’s 8-0 semifinal thrashing by Soldotna. They went on to fall 5-2 in the third-place game against Wasilla on Saturday, ending their 2014 season.
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