Hope Martin dribbles through the South Kitsap defense during a recent non-league match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Hope Martin dribbles through the South Kitsap defense during a recent non-league match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Klahowya battling through injuries and inexperience early in the season

SILVERDALE — For a while now, the Klahowya Eagles have been one of the most successful soccer teams in the West Sound; and they have been typically stacked with experience and talent as they made their deep runs into the 1A state playoffs.

They’re in an unfamiliar situation this year, but if this young team can weather some early season adversity, there should be some brighter days on the horizon. A few injuries to some key players has left this roster short on experience and depth — something the program hasn’t dealt with in years.

“It’s been a while,” said head coach Troy Oelschlager. “We’ve got some injuries, we had two girls not come back that we thought were coming back. We’re thin. We’re only playing with 11-12 girls right now.”

Klahowya is currently without the services of forward Tyler Townsend, a speedy scoring threat up top, and defender Hailey Connolly, both of whom figured to be key contributors, and forward Sarah Newhard.

Without a full compliment of players, even something as simple as having a full field scrimmage can be difficult. But if the team can stay afloat during this tough stretch, the talent is there to return to its winning ways.

The team already has one piece of good news in its back pocket — they don’t have to worry qualifying for the playoffs. The Olympic League 1A has only two teams this year without Chimacum, meaning both Klahowya and Port Townsend will be in the district playoffs. They have the entire season to get healthy and get organized.

“By playoff time, we’re hoping to be pretty close to full strength,” Oelschlager said.

The Eagles didn’t have any substitutes in the first half of Monday’s non-league match against 4A South Kitsap. In the second half, a junior varsity player was able to come on to give a few girls a break. They played with only ten on the field for about 15 minutes when defender Hope Swenland went off with an injury and returned at forward.

Coming off a 4-1 loss to North Kitsap over the weekend, Klahowya was able to hold off the Wolves and finish the match in a 1-1 tie. Alyssa Peters scored on a penalty kick in the 31st minute. The team had a record of 0-2-1 heading into Tuesday’s league match against Port Townsend.

With Peters, one of the best players in the state — as well as her sister Tori, a superb freshman — driving play in the midfield, Klahowya should have a solid attack. If Townsend returns healthy and back to form, she and Hope Martin are both capable of posting double digit goals. Swenland and Connolly should join sophomore Kyla Radford and senior Katelyn Daykin to form a good back line in front of keeper Shae Stevens.

“We’ve got some talent, so we have to figure out how to blend it all together,” Oelschlager said.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

Klahowya freshman Tori Peters (16) holds off South Kitsap’s Lily Lutovsky. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Klahowya freshman Tori Peters (16) holds off South Kitsap’s Lily Lutovsky. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

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