Players rarely lift their coach over their heads — picture crowd surfing in a most pit — following a loss.
But that happened minutes after Kodiak’s 3-0 Northern Lights Conference boys soccer loss to Grace Christian Saturday at Joe Floyd Track and Field.
What was the team celebrating? Joseph Amaya’s final game as head coach of the Bears.
Amaya’s two-year run at the helm of the program ended Saturday as Kodiak closed out the season third in the NLC with a 3-4-1 record, 4-7-1 overall.
The youthful Amaya, who blends in with his players, is in the Navy and is heading to California next month.
Even though his time in the program was brief, he enjoyed every second.
“This season and last season I had a blast,” Amaya said. “Playing throughout my whole career, I feel in love with the sport. I started to coach them and they made me fall in love with it again.”
Amaya finished with a 6-12-1 record.
Kodiak had high expectations entering the season but couldn’t get on a roll after last year’s leading scorer Isaiah Panthin suffered an injury three games into the season. He never returned to the pitch.
“As I told these guys, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve,” Amaya said. “It just played out like that.”
Thanks to elevated play from senior captain Noah Coulter and freshman Jeremiah Panthin, Kodiak entered the critical battle against defending NLC champion Grace Christian with a chance to finish second and earn an automatic berth to the Division II State Championships.
Instead, Grace finished second and is headed to state after sweeping Kodiak — the Grizzlies scored a 4-0 win in Friday’s opener.
“A couple of easy goals that we gave up mentally brought us down,” Amaya said.
Grace scored in a flurry on Friday, netting three first-half goals in seven minutes.
The opposite happened in Saturday’s match. After a scoreless first half, Grace pumped in three second-half goals to finish the regular season with 6-2 NLC record, 9-6-1 overall.
How clutch was Coulter and Jeremiah Panthin for Kodiak this season? The two accounted for 13 of the team’s 19 goals. Coulter — a diver and hockey player — tallied a team-high seven goals, while Jeremiah Panthin had six goals.
“He (Coulter) has been a major anchor point for our team, especially with the loss of Isaiah Panthin. Our entire game plan is run through him, and he has done well,” Amaya said.
Kodiak’s girls were 26 minutes from another impressive outing in their best season since 2019.
Following a 52-minute scoreless battle, Grace Christian broke through in the 53rd minute, then added three more goals to take Saturday’s season-finale 4-0.
Grace — the NLC champions — grabbed Friday’s opening game 4-1 and finished with an 8-0 conference record, 9-7 overall.
“There are lots of bright spots every single game. I’m so proud of this team,” Kodiak coach Kate Korrow said after Saturday’s match. “They have come a long way since we started the season. I look forward to next season and thereafter.”
After not posting a win during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Kodiak checked out with a 2-9-1 record, 1-6-1 NLC.
In the third game of the season, Kodiak knocked off Redington 2-0 at the Homer Soccer Tourney for the program’s first win since the 2019 season.
The Bears were not done.
Earlier this month, Kodiak picked up its first NLC win since the 2019 season with a 2-1 victory at Houston.
“Our seniors had not seen a win. That was a big deal for them,” Korrow said. “That is something that they are very proud of. I’m excited that they had that opportunity. ... They are all excited. They want to play in the fall and in the preseason. I’m thrilled.”
Senior foreign exchange student Mayu Sakaguchi scored Kodiak’s only weekend goal.
“She has been a wonderful tradition to the team and a leader,” Korrow said.
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