POULSBO — North Kitsap loves soccer like Memphis loves Elvis, and this weekend, you could tell.
More than 160 teams and thousands of soccer players descended on North Kitsap to play in Viking Cup, the region’s huge annual soccer tournament.
If you didn’t know Viking Cup was in town, you could tell by gazing into car windows, where parents had scribbled team names and words of encouragement (including, in one case, “Soccer Rocks!”). You could tell by eating at Burger King, where the marquee proclaimed, “Welcome to soccer town!” You could tell by driving past any North Kitsap field, where any fan hoping to catch a stirring cricket match or thrilling polo contest would have been disappointed. This weekend, soccer was king.
“You’ve got to represent,” said 15-year-old Kamryn Morgan, who manned a fund-raising booth at NKHS between games. Morgan, a North Kitsap resident, spoke for all her neighbors; while teams come from as far away as California to play in Viking Cup, the North Kitsap teams wanted to show the competition how tough they were.
While the North Kitsap teams did indeed represent (many made it to the third and final day of the tourney), soccer players from Hansville to Poulsbo were impressed by the brand of soccer played on North Kitsap fields during Memorial Day weekend.
“There’s some pretty good competition,” said Taitea Dykstra. Her teammates, interrupted briefly from watching the Stinky Pigs boys’ team in action, agreed: “They’re competitive, and they’re aggressive,” said Kim Skelly, who plays on Phoenix along with Dykstra.
Teammate Nicole Perigard agreed. “They’re aggressive.”
She added, “And pushy.”
Pushiness or non-pushiness aside, there was one point that wasn’t debated: the fun. From the smallest striker to the most gargantuan goalie, every participant in Viking Cup got to hit the field for several games’ worth of good times.
When winning, the younger players bounced up and down like pogo sticks; when losing they hung their heads, at least until the snacks were broken out.
One coach, after hearing several his players giggle during a drill, clapped his hands and uttered a phrase that could have been the community’s motto for the weekend.
“Think soccer, girls,” he said, gently admonishing them. “Think soccer.”