While other Kodiak High girl spring sports programs are struggling with turnout, soccer is not.
The 27 girls on the roster represent the biggest turnout for the eighth-year soccer program. It’s a welcome sight for a program that just last year didn’t know if it would have enough players for the season-opening match.
Now, the coaching staff has the challenging task of cutting the gameday roster to 18 — something that coaches have never had to do in the past.
“I’m thrilled,” said Kodiak coach Kate Korrow, returning to the program after being away for five seasons. “We have been in positions where we haven’t had substitutions before. I’m glad to have the luxury of that. … I’m glad to have that kind of depth, for sure.”
Korrow was around for the birth of the program in 2015. She was the program’s first head coach and held that position for three years. Her final season was one of the program’s best, with the team posting a 2-7-1 record and qualifying for the first time for the Northern Lights Conference regional tournament. The tournament no longer exist as the conference’s two state tournament qualifying teams are determined by regular-season records.
Just as she was finding her footing as a coach, she stepped down for family reasons. Since then, Kodiak has had a revolving door of coaches — Marc Mens, Lisa Fiorette and Kathy and Brett Simpler, the husband-wife combo who coached last season when no other coach stepped up.
Mens had the most success, leading Kodiak to its first — and only — Division II State Championship appearance in 2019 with a program-best 3-5-4 record.
The timing was right for Korrow to return to the pitch; she said she is thrilled to be back.
“I missed it. I love the program. I was at the very beginning of when it started,” she said. “Certainly, I am excited about the excitement surrounding soccer in the community, too.”
Having started the program from scratch, she is the perfect coach to build the foundation for the future, which looks bright. The roster is loaded with underclassmen excited to learn the game, many of whom remain after practice to hone their skills.
“I’m excited about growing the program,” said Korrow, who is assisted by Kathleen Gambling. “That is the other thing about having numbers is that it promotes competition — they see the standard that is set from the more high-skilled players.”
Korrow has spent the bulk of early-season practices focusing on fundamentals in preparation for Thursday’s 5 p.m. season opener against Houston at the Homer Soccer Tourney at Homer High School.
The veteran coach pointed to sophomore goalie Mikylla Madamba and senior foreign exchange student Mayu Sakaguchi, a midfielder, as her field leaders.
“She (Sakaguchi) is definitely a leader on the team and has some beautiful skills and footwork,” Korrow said.
As for the rest of the team, time will tell who emerges as scoring threats. The Bears scored only three goals in last year’s 0-9 campaign.
“It will be interesting to see who rises up,” Korrow said.
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