BOYS SOCCER | Wolves suffer ‘disappointing’ loss

One-player advantage not enough for South Kitsap in 2-1 setback at Gig Harbor

GIG HARBOR — Consider it a missed opportunity.

South Kitsap had an 11-on-10 advantage throughout the second half, but could not capitalize on it during a 2-1 loss Tuesday night at Gig Harbor.

And it was not a scenario where the Wolves were playing from behind.

The match was tied until the 77th minute when goalkeeper Travis Peyton’s long kick forced counterpart Alex Hutchison forward. But the ball found the foot of senior Eddie Brown for an uncontested goal.

“Playing a man up for an entire half — and losing — I think is rough on everybody,” South coach Cory Vartanian said. “We’ve just got to keep our spirits high.”

Before that play, the Wolves (1-2-0 overall, 0-2-0 league) appeared poised for a tie. Vartanian said he believed that result against the Tides (3-0-1, 2-0-0) would have mitigated the impact of his team’s 2-1 loss in their Thursday Class 4A Narrows League opener against Olympia. Instead, South will play Thursday at Stadium with both teams seeking their first league points.

“That’s what is disappointing,” Vartanian said. “That’s where this one is tough to swallow, especially being a man up.”

The Wolves had a one-person advantage because a Gig Harbor player was assessed a red card with about five minutes remaining during the first half. Despite that, South seemed to generate more pressure on the goal before that occurred.

“Early on we played fine,” Vartanian said. “For whatever reason, we got caught in a flat spell. As a coach, you’ve got to contemplate what’s causing that.”

He has some ideas.

“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.”

He also was not pleased with a lack of pressure on Peyton during the second half. The Wolves had just two shots on goal during the final 40 minutes.

“We’ve got to play a lot more solid in our midfield as far as distributing to our forwards,” Vartanian said.

South’s lone goal came after the Tides took a 1-0 lead when forward Steve Horwath found the left side of the net in the 25th. Midfielder Isaac Sterling’s shot from the right corner was deflected off a Gig Harbor defender and past John Reinke, who was the Tides’ goalkeeper during the first half, for a goal.

“It was a great hustling play,” Vartanian said. “I think it banged off their defender, but we’ll take them any way we can get.”

Similar to several of his teammates, Sterling is a junior. Vartanian said those players, who struggled through the program’s first losing season last year since 2001, still are learning.

“We’re junior dominated within our lineup,” he said. “We’re still coming together as a team.”

At Gig Harbor 2, South Kitsap 1

First half-1, Gig Harbor, Steve Horwath, 25th minute; 2, South Kitsap, Isaac Sterling, 27th.

Second half-3, Gig Harbor, Eddie Brown, 77th.

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