This is the kind of challenge they expected in Tacoma after spring break — not before it.
South Kitsap entered the Narrows League high school boys soccer match undefeated, while Lincoln came in winless.
But the Wolves had to hold on for the final 69 minutes after junior forward Justin Moore scored his seventh goal of the season in the 11th minute to give them a 1-0 win Thursday night at the Lincoln Bowl.
“I definitely underestimated them,” Moore said. “But we came out and did what we needed to do.”
South (7-0-1 overall, 5-0-0 league) struggled to break through the Abes’ defense. The Wolves only had five shots on goal, but came close to scoring in the 60th when senior defender Ryan Muyskens shot missed to the right of the goal and had another opportunity six minutes later when goalkeeper Jose Talavera saved a shot by senior midfielder Quincy Lyman.
“It’s taken me a lot of years to be content and not to shortchange a game you want to win by more goals,” Wolves coach Eric Bergeson said. “You only get three points in the standings for winning.”
For a moment, it appeared South might end up settling with one point for a tie. The Abes (0-4-0, 0-4-0), who finished with three shots on goal, had one that was saved in the 66th.
They then had their best look of the night when senior forward Juan Zuniga’s shot bounced off the top goal post.
“I thought there was a few times at the end they were really pushing,” Bergeson said. “They have a bunch of athletic young men and made our lives difficult.
“I thought Lincoln demonstrated so much improvement in the decade I’ve been coaching. I’m just really impressed by how far those guys have come and how much they pressured us. Credit to them — they made our lives difficult.”
Bergeson noted that junior defender Jesse Askew “came from nowhere to clear a few off the line” to preserve the win.
“I had a bad feeling about how things were going toward the end of the game,” said Bergeson, who received a yellow card in the 65th on a disputed call.
“I had a bad feeling about how things were being called toward the end of the game. It felt like it was hockey there for a little while.”
Two goalkeepers, senior Greg Dobb and junior Daniel Lathrop, combined for the Wolves’ third shutout in league play and fourth overall this season. South only has allowed four goals this season.
“Another shutout makes me proud of the defense,” Bergeson said.
Tuesday’s 3-1 league win against Olympia eliminated another undefeated Narrows team. Bellarmine Prep, which played Thursday against Wilson, was the only other unbeaten remaining in league. Muyskens scored two goals in that match and Brent Ricigliano added the third.
Moore knows it won’t get any easier when the Wolves resume play at 7:15 p.m. April 8 at Stadium.
The Tigers’ only loss this season was 4-1 against Bellarmine Prep on March 12.
“I think we’re doing well and started off the season well,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll keep it up over spring break and come back ready to play.”