• Homer gains a little more respect as they hold their own against Anchorage teams
By Sean Pearson
Despite a solid regular season in Northern Lights Conference place and a No. 3 seed going into last weekend’s State Tournament, Homer High boys’ soccer team still had a hard time finding much respect from larger Anchorage squads.
Undaunted, the M’s came out running, and opened the tourney with a 3-1 surprise Thursday win over the Service Cougars.
Senior forward Quinn Daugharty opened Homer’s scoring with goal just eight minutes into the game.
“I definitely think everyone underestimated us,” Daugharty said. “I mean, no one expects a group of 13 guys from a small town to compete against schools with over a 1,000 kids. That was our advantage.”
A Service goal in the 30th minute tied the score, and the two teams entered the half tied 1-1. But the M’s were just getting warmed up, and in the 58th minute, Jake Worsford scored from point-blank range to give Homer the go-ahead goal. Just two minutes later, teammate Max Mangue took a pass from Mario Glosser to break away for the Mariners’ final goal of the game and a trip to Friday’s semifinals.
The Anchorage Daily News called Homer’s win over Service an “upset,” noting that, although both teams entered the tourney as No. 3 seeds, “common sense dictated that — according to school size and population — Service was the heavy favorite.”
The Mariners didn’t see it that way, and just continued to play their game, and move on.
Friday’s semifinals matched Homer against Colony; a team the Mariners had met before.
“Colony was the only team we played that already knew what we had,” Daugharty said. “Neither Service, nor South High School, were expecting us to come out and play like we did.”
The Knights kept Homer goalie Brian Rowe quite busy for the full 80 minutes of play, taking 21 shots on goal. The M’s were only able to muster two shots, and eventually fell to the Knights 0-1.
“Losing to Colony took us out of the running,” Daugharty explained. “But we lost 0-1 to the team that eventually took the State title; I think that says a lot about our team.”
Friday’s loss sent Homer on to battle South High School for the third-place crown on Saturday.
Flynn Bloom scored Homer’s only goal of the game, nailing a long-range shot that caught South’s goalie off guard. The Mariners held a 1-0 lead going into the second half and looked to be in control as time continued to tick off the clock. With four minutes left in the game, however, a South player made a move in the goalie box and collided hard with Rowe.
In an arguably questionable call, Rowe was charged with the foul, and South was awarded a penalty kick. The Wolverines successfully converted on the PK, tying the game in the 77th minute.
“It was definitely an unfortunate call — my mom was even madder than I was,” Daugharty explained. “But, like I told the guys, everyone in the stands knew we won 1-0 and got third place. It’s a big accomplishment and we should be proud of what we did.”
The third-place finish was the best result Homer’s boys soccer has ever had at a State Tourney. A testament to the Mariners’ smothering defense was their giving up only three goals in as many games.
“We were all happy of how we played, and very proud of ourselves,” Mangue said. “Coach was so happy, he wanted to jump in the creek.”
Mangue is an exchange student from Mozambique, and said soccer here is “way faster and pretty physical.”
Junior Drew Brown said the tourney was. “one of the most exhilarating experiences of my career.
“I would love to make the trip back next spring,” he concluded.
Homer also won the sportsmanship award, and Daugharty and Mangue were named to the State all-tourney team.
Earlier last week, Daugharty and John Walsworth were named to the All-Northern Lights Conference first team, and Kenneth Schneider was named to the second team. Lady Mariners Aspen Daigle and Maggie Koplin were named to the all-conference first team, and Mady Gerard got the nod for second-team honors.
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