POULSBO — The Vikings were 90 seconds away from defeat, driving the ball upfield, searching desperately for the equalizer against Olympic.
As a player from each team converged on a North Kitsap pass to the right side of the field, the ball bounced up and hit the hand of the Olympic defender. The Vikings were awarded a free kick from that spot, about 25 yards away near the right sideline.
Sophomore Emily DeLay took the kick and launched a perfectly placed shot just over the outstretched hands of the Olympic keeper. In the blink of an eye, the match was tied.
After a scoreless overtime period, North Kitsap successfully converted on three of its five penalty kicks — the match-winner was scored by junior Alaina Marcotte — to win the game, 2-1, over its league rival, Olympic on Oct. 12. The win keeps the Vikings within striking distance of a league title, as they are now three points behind the Trojans.
“It’s just the way we wrote it up,” said North Kitsap head coach Greg St. Peter. “It was one of the ugliest games of the season in my opinion. I just told the girls, and we say it all the time, if you’re having an off day, you can always go hard and that’s what they did tonight. They never gave up. It was pretty sloppy, but we’ll take it.”
Rain before the game meant slick field conditions for the players, and it affected both teams’ style of play, as they had trouble stringing together passes to create an open look. Both goals were scored on well-placed free kicks.
“I thought we played them tough,” said Olympic head coach Steve Haggerty. “We still had trouble making that finishing pass to create a shot, but the game wasn’t a pretty game, their was a lot of direct play rather than combination play.”
Despite that, both teams did manage to create some scoring opportunities. Olympic had the better of the chances in the first half, most notably a strike by Gabby Luty from just outside the 18-yard box that forced North Kitsap keeper Chloe Whitbeck to make a terrific save.
In the 37th minute, the Trojans earned a free kick from 30 yards out and junior Sydney Troy put the ball in a perfect spot where no one could reach it to give Olympic a 1-0 lead.
The Vikings turned up the offensive pressure in the second half, earning several corner kicks, but they were unable to find the back of the net. It looked as though, despite the effort, North Kitsap would come up short until the inadvertent handball by Olympic that led to DeLay’s free kick goal.
“What gets me is the ball was going out of bounds and it somehow hit her hand, it was a fluke,” said Haggerty. “But what are you going to do? I’m proud of the kids.”
In the penalty shootout, the teams were tied at 2 after successful conversions by Luty and Kiarra Richards for Olympic, and Audrey Zinn and Charlotte Bond for North Kitsap. After Olympic hit the post on its shot in the fifth round, in stepped Marcotte, who placed a low strike into the corner of the net for the win.
North Kitsap defeated Olympic for the second time this season after the Trojans took both head-to-head matchups last season. The last four games between these two schools have gone to penalty kicks. Both teams now have 7-2 records in league play, but Olympic has earned points in both of its losses to retain a slim lead in the standings.
“These girls have a lot of pride,” St. Peter said after the match. “They know exactly what I’m going to say before I say it, which is a good thing. But they have pride, they have heart. And I’m glad we got that goal in the last minute because I was pulling my hair out.”