BREMERTON — The first state playoff home game brought along with it a few nerves for a young Klahowya team.
But before long, the Eagles settled down and into their brand of soccer, putting tremendous offensive pressure on South Whidbey and cruising to a 4-1 victory on Nov. 7.
There were no fears of a first-round exit in the state playoffs, a fate which befell the team the past two years — rather, it was simply a young team playing a big game in front of friends and family at Silverdale Stadium that provided a few butterflies early on.
“It’s the first state game, they’re playing at home in front of their friends, they’re nervous,” head coach Troy Oelschlager said. “And they played the first 20 minutes like they were nervous.”
Sophomore Alyssa Peters, who scored a goal and set up two others, was among those with a couple of near-misses in the first half. She pushed a couple of her early opportunities just wide of the net before burying a shot early in the second half.
“I was really excited for this game and I think my nerves were just hitting me then,” Peters said following the game. “Once I finally got it in, I relaxed and I was able to play a little bit better.”
Peters set up the first goal of the game, taking a pass on the right side of the field and sending it to the middle to Hope Martin, who turned and unleashed a hard strike from 25 yards out.
The Eagles rode that late goal into halftime and came out from the break firing on all cylinders.
“They did not have alot of opportunities with how much pressure we were putting on them,” said Oelschlager. “We naturally forced them into a defensive posture, it was difficult for them to get numbers forward after that. We were bringing a pretty big attack.”
Peters scored in the 49th minute off a feed from Tyler Townsend and then, 10 minutes later, she created just enough space on the edge of the field to send a cross into the box where Rylee Fenske-Radford finished the chance to make it 3-0. Hailey Sargent added a goal on a penalty kick in the 70th minute.
An even younger Falcons team, which had only one senior and one junior, struggled with the few opportunities they could muster against the Klahowya defense. But with just moments remaining in the game, the only shot on goal for South Whidbey found the back of the net. It was a terrific shot by Karyna Henzel from the left side near the end line that curled all the way around, up and over the keeper.
“They calmed down, played our kind of soccer and finished it off strong,” said Oelschlager.
Klahowya will hit the road in the second round of the state playoffs, traveling to either Elma High School in Olympia or Kings in Shoreline. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Nov. 17-18 at Shoreline Stadium.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.