Nate Blanchard is embraced by his teammates after heading in a late, decisive goal against Fife on May 12. Jacob Moore | Kitsap Daily News

Nate Blanchard is embraced by his teammates after heading in a late, decisive goal against Fife on May 12. Jacob Moore | Kitsap Daily News

Nate Blanchard leads the Vikings to last-minute district tournament win

The senior midfielder provided the offensive spark with both of his team’s goals against Fife

TACOMA — One minute. That’s how long the Vikings (9-3, 14-4) held a lead against Fife (9-5, 12-7-1) on Saturday. But luckily for North Kitsap, its was the final minute of the game as the Vikings came back from an early deficit, securing a thrilling 2-1 win over the Trojans.

Senior midfielder Nate Blanchard had already netted his team’s first goal late in the first half. With the Vikings pressuring throughout the second, it almost seemed inevitable that they were going to get another one. That wasn’t the question North Kitsap head coach Greg St. Peter was asking himself. Instead, it was a question of who would come through.

And again, Blanchard was the answer.

This time, he used his head instead of his foot to pop the ball passed Fife’s goalkeeper inside the final two minutes to send the Vikings home victorious.

“He scored almost all of his goals with his head,” St. Peter said of Blanchard. “He just has a knack for goal and he comes through. It was clutch.”

But it wasn’t over quite yet. The Tojans mustered one last chance at forcing the game into extra time with a speedy shot toward Vikings goalkeeper Giacomo Battu. A moment of fear gripped North Kitsap fans before Battu put both of his hands up to halt the potential tie. The final whistle blew shortly after.

St. Peter added that the match was bizarre because Fife looked like a different team in the second half.

“The first half, very strong and aggressive,” he said. “And the second half, they laid off quite a bit. The game dialed down. Really strange, we had good possession we just couldn’t keep the ball to create scoring opportunities. That’s the frustrating part. But to keep going, keep believing, keep plugging away — we knew we were going to pop one in.”

That physical, aggressive brand of soccer paid off for Fife in the first half.

Battu was under siege and made several impressive saves, but in the 23rd minute, the Trojans finally finished a chance on a rebound to take a 1-0 lead.

One of the few short bursts of offense from North Kitsap paid off as Blanchard unleashed a forceful kick over Trojans goalkeeper Cole Tantzen in the 27th minute. With an assist from senior George Beddoe near goal, Blanchard placed the ball perfectly into the upper right corner of the net to tie the game just before halftime.

As for the halftime conversation, St. Peter said his squad was focused on trying to change the game by controlling possession more. That combined with Fife playing with less intensity resulted in an exciting win for the Vikings — one they may have bragged about at prom later that evening.

“We were already in state, but for us, it was big because it was the opportunity to host … so, we’re stoked,” he said. “It was such a huge distraction for these guys going to prom tonight. We tried to change the game times, but it wasn’t happening. So, to get a win against a good team is really, really big for us.”

North Kitsap will host a first round state tournament game at North Kitsap High School. That matchup against Archbishop Murphy (12-4-2, 10-2) is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at jmoore@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMooreKDN.

Senior Nate Blanchard lets out a kick in the first half that allowed the ball to reach the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1. Jacob Moore | Kitsap Daily News

Senior Nate Blanchard lets out a kick in the first half that allowed the ball to reach the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1. Jacob Moore | Kitsap Daily News

More in Sports

South Kitsap forward Maya Foster (8) chases down a loose ball in Tuesday night’s home-opener against Graham-Kapowsin. (Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group) 
Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group
South Kitsap forward Maya Foster (8) chases down a loose ball in Tuesday night’s home-opener against Graham-Kapowsin.
South Kitsap snags 4-1 victory in home opener

Wolves prevail despite team experiencing COVID shutdown

South Kitsap quarterback Mason Elena tries to go over a Rogers defender. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Football Roundup: Week 3

North Mason at North Kitsap, postponed. This game was postponed due to… Continue reading

Bainbridge’s Jacob Dorsey (45) helps bring down Olympic’s Luke Silva (9) during Friday night’s matchup. The Trojans prevailed 28-24. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BHS comeback falls short due to lack of kicking game

The good news from Friday night’s football game is that Bainbridge scored… Continue reading

Bainbridge middle blocker Holley McFadden gets in the way of a Kingston shot during her team’s victory over the Bucs on Thursday. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge beats Kingston for 3rd consecutive win

Three games, nine sets, all of them have gone Bainbridge’s way. The… Continue reading

Sky Henderson (29) rushes to congratulate teammate Avery Pujolar after scoring her third goal of the game in a 5-0 win over Bremerton. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review photos)
Pujolar’s hat trick sparks Bainbridge to victory

Bainbridge sophomore Avery Pujolar was flying down the left sideline at full… Continue reading

South Kitsap junior Anna Harvey drops a shot past the Kingston defense. The Wolves defeated the Bucs three sets to two Monday night. (Mark Krulish/North Kitsap Herald photos)
SK comes back to defeat Kingston in 5 sets

South Kitsap was trailing two sets to one late in the fourth… Continue reading

Josh Smith, along with partner Drake Jones, are the top doubles pair for North Kitsap and led the way in Thursday’s match against Bainbridge, winning 6-0, 6-1. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BI wins singles, NK doubles and match

North Kitsap’s seniors are hoping to make the most of their final… Continue reading

Hailey Deese leads the rush upfield during last year’s match against Bremerton. South Kitsap has a number of returners from last spring’s varsity team. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Sports previews: South Kitsap

Girls Soccer 2021 record: 8-2-1 Head coach: Hailey Parker Key players: Rosamaria… Continue reading

Colton Bower was a 2A All-State selection in the spring and he leads an experienced North Kitsap team this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
All-State QB leads N. Kitsap this fall

Editor’s note: A preview on Kingston football will run in next week’s… Continue reading

Most Read