Losing two matches by a combined score of 29-0 would cause some people to throw in the towel, but not the players on Kodiak’s girls soccer team.
They used it as a learning experience.
“It was something interesting and new. We have a bunch of room for growth, but overall I think we did good for our first games,” junior captain Jie Canete said.
Call it an education in varsity soccer for a first-year program.
Kenai, the state’s fifth-best team last year and Northern Lights Conference runner-ups, beat Kodiak 16-0 and 13-0 in its program opener two weeks ago at Joe Floyd Track and Field.
Canete — a prominent name on the wrestling mat and basketball court in Kodiak — expected the team to have some growing pains. However, she is no stranger to soccer having been part of the KHS co-ed club team two years ago as a freshman.
“It is nice seeing soccer become part of Kodiak, like other sports,” she said. “We have a lot of room to develop. Kenai has been playing for 18 years — we will get there.”
Kodiak gets another shot at registering the program’s first win — and goal — this weekend against Nikiski at The Floyd. Friday’s nonconference match begins at noon, while Saturday’s conference match kicks at 9 a.m.
Nikiski ended last season in the first round of the NLC Tournament with a 3-0 loss to Wasilla and will come to the island with new coach Troy Zimmerman and an 0-2 record — the Bulldogs lost to Homer 4-3 and Kenai 6-0.
“We are going to be more aggressive and communicate more as a team,” Canete said.
Kodiak coach Kate Korrow was pleased to see how quickly her players bounced back from a rough opening weekend and was encouraged they all returned to practice.
“The fact that they keep showing up to practice I am quite happy with and they are all smiling coming off the field,” she said.
Korrow is spending the time between matches working on fundamentals.
“Bringing in strategy and tactics to the game is certainly something we are going to get to, but we are not quite there yet. It will take time,” she said. “I have to respect how long it takes to build a program.”
The boys' program is also learning on the go after dropping a pair of season-opening 7-0 losses to Kenai.
“We learned that it is pretty physical and the speed is pretty fast,” coach Eric Waltenbaugh said. “And we learned that we have to stay focused for 80 minutes — that is a long time to play tight defense and smart offense.”
Nikiski is 2-2 on the season and is coming off an impressive 1-0 victory over Kenai on Tuesday night.
“I’m hoping to see us control more of the midfield,” Waltenbaugh said. “Our first game we didn’t do a very good job of that at all. We improved in our second game and I just want to see that continue.”
Waltenbaugh also mentioned he would like to see more scoring opportunities, something he didn’t see much against Kenai.
“We have been working a lot on that this week,” he said.
This is the final home matches for both the boys and girls. The girls finish the season with three away matches against Seward, Homer and Soldotna, while the boys will play Homer and Soldotna.
Derek Clarkston is a staff writer at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact him at (907) 486-3227, ext. 625.