BREMERTON — In order to keep its playoff hopes alive, Bremerton needed a victory over North Mason. At least that’s what head coach Randy Lund told his team before an April 10 home matchup.
The Knights not only won, but recorded a shutout of the Bulldogs, the team’s first of the season in a 2-0 victory.
Bremerton junior Evan Frankowski scored the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute off a free kick taken by James Moran. The kick was from about 30 yards away, and a goal from that distance is almost unheard of without some help.
But Frankowski leaped out of the sea of white and blue jerseys and tapped the ball with his head to change its course. The cheers turned into roars as Bremerton took a lead it would never relinquish.
“Let’s go!” Moran exclaimed as he celebrated the tiebreaking score. “Let’s get some more.”
Juniors Luis Clemen and Carter Braunz answered his request 15 minutes later. With an assist from Braunz, Clemen broke free from the defense and tucked the ball past the keeper for the insurance marker.
“I basically told them that if we still have a shot at the playoffs, this is a game we have to win,” Lund said. “That was my motivation for them … and they pulled it out.”
Bremerton would have had a third goal late in the game were it not for a diving save by North Mason goalkeeper Dylan Abad, who flung his entire body into the air to keep the ball out of the net. But two would turn out to be more than enough.
And the Knights got their own heroics from keeper Zachary Storey, who recorded the clean sheet. After squeaking by the Bulldogs in a 2-1 contest that was decided in a penalty shootout earlier this year, there was no question that every save would be a big one.
North Mason did not muster much offense in the first half, but began to find its rhythm as the game wore on. The Bulldogs earned two corner kicks, but neither of them resulted in a dangerous opportunities. The Bulldogs began peppering the net with more shots from longer distances in an effort to get back into the game, but Storey was ready every time he was needed.
Through their first nine games, the Knights had conceded an average of three goals per contest, making this shutout especially sweet.
Quieting North Mason’s offense was not the result of a clean game, though. Lund wanted his athletes to be patient on defense instead of going after the ball every time they had a chance. While he saw that a couple times, he didn’t think the Knights did that consistently.
“You don’t need to win the ball, you need to go in to tackle to win the ball,” he said. “Wait for them to make a mistake and then take it. We still need improvement on that.”
Lund also said he wants his athletes to “stretch the field” more than they did instead of clumping together.
“They were doing that toward the end [but] in the first half, I was like, ‘What are these guys doing?” he said. “It looked like a different team.”
With the win, Bremerton pushes away from North Mason in the Olympic league standings. However, they’re still fifth and need to be in the top four to make the district tournament. That means the Knights must win — at the very least — two of their five remaining conference matches. They still have games remaining against Port Angeles and Sequim, the two teams sitting directly above them.
Bremerton’s next chance to earn points is a 6:45 p.m. match on April 13 at home against North Kitsap.