SILVERDALE — Central Kitsap is heating up at the right time, heading down the final stretch of its league schedule.
The Cougars took one final detour on Oct. 9, squaring off with Klahowya in a rare cross-town matchup, but their hot streak continued with a 2-0 victory over the Eagles.
Goals by Autumn Mullins and Lauren Hudson were enough to give the Cougars a victory as the defense was able to shut down Klahowya’s quick-strike offensive attack.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for Central Kitsap since a pair of late September losses against Gig Harbor and Peninsula, both of which the team will get a chance to avenge next week.
“Every time we play they show me something else,” said Central Kitsap head coach Vicky Webb. “They’re a group of very versatile young ladies and they’re willing to play anywhere for the good of the team. And they will give me everything they have — you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Mullins put Central Kitsap on the board in the 18th minute off a set piece, and Hudson gave the Cougars some much-needed cushion in the 73rd minute with a left-footed strike that hit the crossbar and bounced straight down into the net.
“These girls find a way,” said Webb. “We don’t like playing from behind, so when we got that first goal it was good, but it wasn’t comfortable.”
From there, it was on the defense to shut down a Klahowya team that had been averaging more than
5.5 goals per game. The Eagles were rarely able to get behind the opposing defense as they have so often this season thanks to the speed and quick ball-reading ability of defender Megan Hedrick, who was often the first player there to sweep away potential scoring chances.
But despite Central Kitsap’s terrific defensive play, Klahowya was able to generate some opportunities. The Eagles nearly had themselves an early first half lead after junior midfielder Kylie Woodrum hit the crossbar after taking a great feed from Rylee Radford. Early in the second half, Tyler Townsend had some space to loft a shot over Central Kitsap keeper Alyssa Russell, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
“We had some opportunities, it didn’t feel like a 2-0 game,” said Klahowya head coach Troy Oelschlager. “They capitalized on some of their opportunities and we didn’t. I think we played them well, I think on any given day it might have gone in a different direction.”
The end result was the first loss of the season for Klahowya, but Oelschlager was optimistic his team would bounce back quickly. For all the success the Eagles have had this season, it’s easy to forget the team has just two seniors — one of whom, starting goalkeeper Emma Hough, who was away, did not suit up against Central Kitsap.
“The experience clearly showed, they played with a bit more confidence and they were a little more prepard for a game like that than we are,” said Oelschlager. “We’re still so young as a team.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter at Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.