The Central Kitsap and North Kitsap boys soccer teams tied in their season opener 2-2 March 11.
Since both had successful seasons last year, neither wanted to start the season behind.
“It is local beef,” midfielder Mason Chiemelewski said. “NK and CK want to win this game. It was not either team’s best game but it was chippy.”
Central Kitsap had the first opportunity when forward Jake Mackenzie nailed a shot off the crossbar a few minutes into the game. Several Cougars missed the rebound, and the game remained scoreless.
With 26 minutes left in the first half, Mackenzie took advantage of a Viking defender turning the ball over. He scored on a breakaway to CK a 1-0 lead.
Both teams had a handful of free-kick opportunities, but nothing came about from them until Central Kitsap’s Kolby Juarez picked up a yellow card from a foul outside the box. But North Kitsap could not capitalize on the free kick.
A few minutes into the second half, Silas Gholston extended the lead to 2-0 off a deflection from a corner kick.
Things weren’t looking good for the Vikings down two with just 30 minutes left in the game.
“In the second half, we were down so we knew we needed to score,” Chiemelewski said. “We talked at halftime about possessing more in the final third instead of pushing the ball.”
North Kitsap picked up a foul in the final third of the field and looked to set up a free kick from around the 25-yard line.
“I was on the ball, and I heard someone on the sideline yell for my teammates,” forward Junior Larios said. “I looked up and saw a different player and hit him with the ball.”
Before either team could set, Larios lobbed the ball over CK’s defense, and Ethan Beck scored.
With 10 minutes left, North Kitsap found itself on a counterattack. The Vikings earned a penalty kick. Larios lined it up and found the back of the net to tie the game.
Central Kitsap had a final chance with four minutes left. However, Mackenzie’s shot flew over the top of the goal.
“I liked that we played a bigger team,” Larios said. “It was better competition for us.”
“This was a great game to get ready for league games,” Vikings coach Greg St. Peter said. “To come back down 2-0 without some key guys was a huge response and super proud.”