SILVERDALE — The numbers have been staggering so far for the Klahowya girls soccer team. Seven games, 43 goals, three goals conceded and a 7-0 record.
Heading into a stretch of tough games, it could be forgiven, even expected, if the Eagles did not dominate as they had for much of the early season against fellow small school opponents. But two minutes into its Sept. 28 matchup with 2A North Kitsap (4-4), Klahowya already had a lead and momentum.
A pass at midfield from junior Rylee Radford found the feet of sophomore Tyler Townsend, who ran with speed down the right side and booted the ball past the North Kitsap keeper. And it was just the beginning for the Eagles in their 5-1 victory.
Midway through the first half, it was junior midfielder Kylie Woodrum who found herself with an opportunity to shoot just inside the 18-yard box. Her strike was perfectly placed in the corner of the net to give Klahowya a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Hope Martin made it 3-0 just before halftime with a powerful shot from the left wing.
“We go forward really well, the girls click,” said Klahowya head coach Troy Oelschlager. “Our front six, I’ve never seen a front six move like our front six moves. They work really well together and they move the ball quickly. They’re kind of dialed in right now.”
That is a scary thought for potential opponents considering two things: the program’s recent success, including a 2014 state championship, and the fact that there are only two seniors on the roster.
It’s not only the offense that makes Klahowya such a potent team. The Eagles possess the ball well and win more than their fair share of 50-50 balls in the air. And whenever there is a breakdown, keeper Emma Hough is there to make a big save.
“We stress that daily, that changes the tide of the whole game if we can win the 50-50 balls in the middle,” said Oelschlager. “That’s why we have Hailey Sargent and Katie Streck in there. They win 90 percent of those balls. When we don’t win those balls, you’ll see us struggle.”
The Eagles held firm control of the match in the second half as sophomore forward Alyssa Peters scored early to extend the lead to 4-0, and Radford became the fifth Eagle to score later in the half.
“I think we played really well and we possessed the ball better than we usually do,” said Townsend after the match. “We were a lot more focused in warmups than usual and I think that showed on the field.”
To the Vikings’ credit, they continued to put pressure on Klahowya well into the second half, reeling off a few good scoring chances. North Kitsap junior Mia St. Peter hit the ball into the crossbar attempting to put a shot up and over Hough. In the 72nd minute, the Vikings broke through on the scoreboard with a strong shot from junior Abigal Ginn that hit the top corner of the net.
Klahowya moves forward with matches against Cascade Christian and Olympic before returning to league play. The Eagles also have a game scheduled against 3A Central Kitsap on Oct. 9. Oelschlager said he also tried to get a match against 3A powerhouse Gig Harbor, but its schedule was already full.
“We’re really using this little stretch as kind of a playoff prep,” said Oelschlager. “We need to have this pressure to help us get better.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. mkrul firstname.lastname@example.org.