Kodiak High’s soccer club concluded its brief season with a marathon of soccer on Saturday.
The club played four matches — two boys and two girls — in Homer. The Bears went 1-2-1 on the day.
The boys club picked up the lone victory of the day, a 5-1 win over Seward’s varsity team, and later finished in a 2-2 tie with Homer’s junior varsity.
The girls club — playing in its first matches of the season — lost 5-3 to Seward’s varsity and 3-1 to Homer’s junior varsity.
“It was amazing just to see the growth in the players individual skills as well as understanding positions,” boys coach Eric Waltenbaugh said. “It was a tremendous season. Everybody just improved so much. They are really excited about going into next year.”
The boys finished their first season 2-1-1, while the girls went 0-2.
Kodiak’s boys picked apart Seward, scoring early and often.
Daniel Beltran and Joong Lee each scored twice, while Edwin Cruz added a solo goal.
Seward avoided being shutout with a late goal.
“We played the best I have seen them play,” Waltenbaugh said. “We worked pretty hard for challenging the ball — every 50/50 ball. Any ball that was questionable that we had a chance at, we were winning them.”
Kodiak was down 2-0 to Homer and rallied for the tie.
Hunter Mullen scored in the 68th minute, which was followed nine minutes later by a Beltran goal.
Kodiak’s four seniors — Steven Bradley, Cruz, Lee and Dong Yu — did not play in the game as they were traveling back to the island for graduation.
“You don’t normally play two soccer matches in a day,” Waltenbaugh said. “They didn’t realize how tired they were until the very end.”
Kodiak’s girls got off to a fast start against Seward when the Bears’ lone senior Amy Whitmore scored in the first 30 seconds of the match.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of her during that moment,” Kodiak girls coach Kate Korrow said.
The lead didn’t hold as the Seahawks bullied their way to the win.
“They (the girls) learned that the game is a physical game,” Waltenbaugh said. “Having never played, they were taken aback by the physicality of it. It was a good learning experience.”
Beatriz Recinos Pineda and Emily Smith both scored goals for Kodiak.
“I saw a lot of great effort all the way around. I was quite pleased for their approach of the game,” Korrow said.
Smith, a freshman, scored a free-kick goal in the Bears’ 3-1 loss to Homer’s junior varsity.
“She is one of our central forwards,” Korrow said. “She certainly has a good eye for the goal.”
The Kodiak soccer club started last year with a co-ed team that played three games on the Kenai Peninsula.
The club split into a boys and girls squad this season. Kodiak was supposed to host its first home matches in April, but Skyview did not arrive on the island because of a ferry delay.
The boys traveled to Nikiski and beat the Bulldogs’ junior varsity and lost to the varsity squad in early May.
Waltenbaugh said he is hoping Kodiak can become a sanctioned high school sport next season so it can play a full slate of games as a member of the Northern Lights Conference.
Waltenbaugh believes his team can jump right in and compete against the other 11 schools.
“I think we are right there in it,” he said.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.