POULSBO — The final score isn’t always indicative of the way athletes perform. The North Kitsap boys soccer team found this out the hard way.
Despite taking more shots at goal throughout the game, the Vikings pulled the short end of a 3-1 stick against Archbishop Murphy High School on May 16.
It was an emotional end to a season that looked as if it should have continued.
“I felt like we were the better team,” NK head coach Greg St. Peter said. “It’s just one of those days where it doesn’t go your way. It’s tough for this big group of seniors to end that way.”
Thirteen seniors sported the Vikings soccer jersey for the final time Wednesday evening. Although they didn’t outscore their opponent, it felt inevitable they would at least sneak one past the goalkeeper, considering the number of promising chances they had.
Senior Nate Blanchard, who scored two goals against Fife on Saturday, had Archbishop Murphy’s goalkeeper beat in the seventh minute. With almost a wide-open net, Blanchard took a pass and launched it just over the crossbar.
This came after a corner kick that also sailed over the goal. Then, sophomore Wyatt Murphy got in on the action by attempting to head the ball in, but he wasn’t able to get the right angle on it. Murphy later went one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot went wide to the right.
A golden opportunity arose shortly afterward. Senior forward Nick Cullen missed on his attempt to head in the ball. While the goalkeeper went down to the ground to save it, the ball rolled away, giving George Beddoe a chance to notch the first score. He got too much air under it, however, and kicked it over the top.
North Kitsap had four more healthy chances to find the back of the net, but as St. Peter said, it was just one of those days. The whistle blew to mark the end of the first half and the Vikings found themselves with the disadvantage.
“It felt like we had the lead, but we were down 1-0,” St. Peter said.
Following a scoreless half in which North Kitsap had nothing to show for its offensive domination, the frustrated Vikings wasted no time in the second. Murphy slid one past the Wildcats’ goalkeeper to tie the game at 1-1 in the 41st minute.
Following the tying goal, NK’s offense slowed down for a bit while Archbishop Murphy amped up its opportunities. Wildcats junior Buba Manneh was in the right spot at the right time — twice.
The ball reached Manneh deep downfield and he didn’t hesitate to put his team back into the lead in the 50th minute. Then in the 53rd minute, Manneh pounded his chest, smiled and celebrated a second goal to extend his team’s advantage.
An urgency to score abruptly swept over the Vikings and, as a result, the soccer game turned physical. The referees quickly took notice. On multiple occasions, they warned athletes from both teams to tone down their pushing and shoving.
However, that sense of urgency became emotional when the final whistle blew, with North Kitsap still two goals shy of a tie. The Wildcats may not have taken as many shots or controlled the time of possession as adeptly as the Vikings, but they had the statistic that counted — the final score — and now move on to the state tournament.
“We had our ups and downs a little bit but these guys have known each other for a long time and that makes it special,” St. Peter said.
“I’m proud of them for getting through all the [adversity] that they’ve had. To get back [to state], that was our goal … and they did it. Honestly, I thought we could go another round easily, but I’m really proud of them.”
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at Jmoore@Soundpublishing.com or follow him on Twitter @JMooreKDN.