The Wolves feature a new look this season.
And they hope different results accompany them.
South Kitsap, which traded in its traditional maroon road jerseys for black, is coming off a season where it finished with a losing record (5-7-4) for the first time since 2001.
“They don’t want to have a repeat of last year as far as being up and down,” South coach Cory Vartanian said. “Maturity is really going to play itself out this year.”
Vartanian attributed many of last season’s struggles to the program’s youth. Several of the team’s top players — defender Dalton Burkett, midfielders Ben Figueroa and Isaac Sterling, and forward Kristian Hernandez — return for their junior seasons.
“This year, I’m expecting us to go to the playoffs with the players we have,” said forward Dylan Peterson, a junior. “We have a lot of talent.”
Vartanian also is hopeful that continuity will benefit the program. When he was hired in February 2013, he became the Wolves’ fifth coach in six seasons.
“That was the major goal that was set — to have someone who is a consistent face to have kids get accustomed to how South Kitsap soccer is going to be run,” he said. “They know what to expect from me. The third year is just a lot smoother. Just the consistency of having a head coach.”
Instead of becoming familiar with players and developing a scheme, Vartanian said he has been able to focus more attention on other elements of the program. That enabled him to purchase new balls, uniforms and warmups during the offseason.
“We’ve been saving with our budget for three years,” Vartanian said. “It’s been great.”
The Wolves entered spring break with a 1-2-1 record and 0-2-1 in Class 4A Narrows League play. Vartanian has been impressed with the defense, which was buoyed by the addition of German foreign-exchange student Joel Ebert, but he said the team’s play in the midfield needs to improve for them to earn a berth into the 4A West Central District Tournament.
“We’ve got to play a lot more solid in our midfield as far as distributing to our forwards,” Vartanian said.
He said his team also displays its inexperienced tendencies at times.
“We’ve got to slow things down mentally,” Vartanian said. “We’re playing too fast on the ball and really just reacting, rather than thinking, on the ball.”