There were two ways newly hired Ketchikan High School head coach Andrew Wessling could look at Friday’s 7-0 final against Thunder Mountain High School.
On one hand there was the lopsided score, which fell in favor of the visiting Lady Falcons.
But on the other hand, there was Kayhi’s improvement between halves — a testament to the Lady Kings’ refusal to give up against Thunder Mountain after trailing 5-0 after the first 40 minutes.
Wessling chose the latter.
“That second half was light-years better than the first half,” he said after the season opener at Esther Shea Field. “The first half, we were nervous. ... (But) that second half, we realized that we could play with these girls, and we did.
“I’m very pleased with the improvement, for sure,” he continued. “Obviously, you’d like a better result, but the improvement (between halves), that’s a win, for sure.”
Thunder Mountain jumped out to an early lead, scoring its first goal within the first minute.
Ahead 2-0, the Lady Falcons scored three more goals in the final 12 mintues of the first half.
“I think a lot of that was just first-game jitters,” Wessling said.
The Lady Kings took the intermission as an opportunity to hit the reset button, and Wessling took the time to remind his team how talented they are on the soccer field.
“Just telling them, ‘Hey, we’re a better team than we played that first half,’” he said of his halftime speech. “And the girls know it. It’s just a matter of them stepping up and realizing (it). And I moved some people around to some different positions, and being the first game, you’re going to learn some things.
“Mostly, it was just staying positive, and (focusing) on things we’ve been working on in practice,” he continued. “They executed it, and it was a much better half, so it was great.”
One of those changes came in goal, as Kiara Weber took over in the net. Weber stopped all but two shots that came her way.
“She did phenomenal — a phenomenal job,” Wessling said. “She came in there, and her aggression was huge.”
Up and down Kayhi’s roster, there seemed to be a change in aggression in the second half. As the game continued, despite not finding the back of the net, the Lady Kings had moments of breaking through the Lady Falcons’ defense, threatening with shots on goal.
“That’s really what it was — just having our leaders step up, and saying, ‘We can play with these guys,’” Wessling said.
Wessling noted the play of a trio of players afterward, but “could say great things about all these kids.”
“I knew Ruby (McCue) was going to be super fast,” Wessling said. “I knew she was, at times, going to be able to dominate that game, and she did. And ... with her tenacity that she has, you know she’s going to be good. Sky Raymond played really well. She did a good job.
“Ellie (Pickrell) played a phenomenal game (too).”
Game time change
Saturday’s game has been bumped up by a half hour, and will begin 2:30 p.m. at Esther Shea Field.
The first game is still slated to be a varsity matchup, with the junior varsity game set to begin at 4:15 p.m.
Notes: The JV Lady Kings fell 6-0 to the JV Lady Falcons following the varsity matchup on Friday.