Locals gear up for soccer tournament

POULSBO — For North Kitsap soccer players, it’s time to defend their turf ... or at least have fun on it.

POULSBO — For North Kitsap soccer players, it’s time to defend their turf … or at least have fun on it.

While the annual Viking Cup tournament draws soccer teams from as far away as California and Alaska, it’s the hometown boys and girls that have the best time at the soccer festival.

As hundreds of soccer players fan out across the north end of the county, many of them are from Poulsbo, Kingston, Indianola, and points between. Many play against teammates, or team up with rivals.

Dan Wilson, a North Kitsap High School senior who will hit the Viking Cup fields for the first time this weekend with team Wazoombi (that’s right), says the event always drew his interest, even when he didn’t pull on the cleats to play.

“It’s cool having a lot of big fans and big players around at one time,” said Wilson.

He is joining a team with some teammates from the NKHS soccer team, as well as others from around the county.

“I’m looking forward to playing with kids I haven’t played with before,” said Wilson. “It’s going to be really good.”

Bryce Darrow, another Viking soccer player, is looking forward to the experience.

“It’s where I live,” he said. “It’s a home tournament. Friends and people I know are watching.”

Darrow said it’s also fun to test yourself against teams from other regions; when his team faced off with another from sunny California, he said, the other team taught them a lesson or two: “They showed us a different style of soccer,” he said.

As much as he enjoys facing teams from other regions, Darrow said he’s not willing to cut them any slack.

“You’ve got to represent your home town,” he said.

The North Kitsap communities are well-represented in the tournament, both in talent and in numbers; the region often produces several champions each year, and kids barely taller than the soccer ball compete with each other, as do students consumed with upcoming high school graduation.

The tournament is in its 19th year. It draws more than 200 teams and 2,500 eager soccer players each year.