SILVERDALE — Klahowya had to battle both the elements and a talented Sequim boys soccer squad, but managed to come away with an important victory on April 13.
A rainy, windy, messy evening made it difficult for the offenses to link up properly, but the Eagles (5-0, 8-2) notched goals from Mason Joe, Josh Connolly and Matt Frank on their way to a 3-1 triumph.
It was an important victory for Klahowya — the team has not lost a league match since the 1A Olympic League was formed four years ago — and the Eagles sometimes win those games by large margins. Every chance they get to face quality 2A schools help them prepare for the postseason.
“We went into the game with a lot of discussion about how this is like a playoff game for us,” head coach Jeff Quinn said. “We’re not going to play another team this strong until playoffs. I really made a point of telling the guys that they have to treat this like a playoff game.”
Klahowya led 1-0 at halftime on the goal by Mason Joe. After sophomore William Stewart chipped a ball by the defense, Joe had a little room in the penalty area to lift the ball up over the keeper and into the net. He executed properly and gave his team the lead.
Steady winds of more than 10-15 mph with occasional stronger gusts made conditions tough for the players. Klahowya, with significant speed and skill, had a hard time getting untracked.
“The rain keeps the ball wet, it slides more,” said senior captain Darius Joe, a recent signee of Pacific Lutheran University along with his twin brother, Mason.
“Playing on the ground, if I want to make a tight pass behind the defenders it will slide a lot more. I’m not going to get that bending texture to get it around. It will keep slipping and sliding, there will be a lot more pace.”
Sequim started the second half hot, picking up a goal by Hayuk Minano in the 52nd minute and peppering the Klahowya net with several chances. But soon after, the Eagles began to soar with the wind at their backs.
In the 65th minute, Darius Joe sent a ball ahead to junior Josh Connolly, who stopped and unleashed a hard drive on the net. The ball bounced off a defender and into the back of the goal to give Klahowya the lead.
Six minutes later, Darius Joe set up another tally on a fast break out of the midfield. After drawing the defense toward him, he fed the ball to Matt Frank, who had just enough time to slide the ball past the keeper for a two-goal lead.
Klahowya has not yet clinched a berth in the 1A District Tournament, but it is a near certainty. As of April 17, the Eagles were ahead of third-place Port Townsend by 12 points, with each schools having four league games left. Quinn said his team will need to finish strong in its final matches against Chimacum, Bremerton, Port Townsend and Coupeville to be mentally sharp after May 2 when the competition ramps up.
“I’m hopeful,” Quinn said, while he stated his belief that his team is capable of great things. “We’ve always struggled at the end of the year because we face teams that are better than most of the teams we’ve played.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MKrulishKDN.