Although no one was happy to have lost their full slate of games last fall, for the North Kitsap girls soccer team, the abbreviated season in the spring may have been a blessing in disguise.
After two years of senior-heavy teams, the Vikings were looking at fielding an incredibly young roster, half of which consisted of freshmen and sophomores.
For a program that is accustomed to success at the league, district and state level, its lofty reputation could have been difficult to live up to. But once the pandemic canceled the fall season, the team regrouped in the spring. Without a postseason, the Vikings were able to use the spring as a warm-up for what they hoped would be a full autumn 2021 season and finished with a 5-5-1 record.
Off to a 5-2 start in league play this season (5-3 overall), that work in the spring appears to have paid dividends. North Kitsap looks comfortable and confident on the pitch as they battle it out with Port Angeles, Bainbridge and Sequim for the top spots in the Olympic League.
“I was surprised,” coach Greg St. Peter said. “The amount of time between spring and now is not very long…They buy into the system, they understand it, and they’re coming together as a team.”
They scored a major victory early on, defeating Port Angeles 1-0 on a penalty kick from Tyra Zetty. That was followed by a 7-1 win over North Mason in which Olivia Cary tallied twice and Kamora McMillian, Evelyn Beers, Jenna Clark, Ellie Young and Sydnee Hogan each scored. They lost on a very late goal to Bainbridge by a score of 3-2, but rebounded to defeat Bremerton, 6-0. Their only other league loss this season is an early 2-0 defeat against Sequim.
“The Bainbridge game was a tough loss,” St. Peter said. “They scored right at the end, but that’s a good matchup right there. We’re excited to play Sequim again. We played them early on, missing a couple of key players.”
North Kitsap capped its first run through the Olympic League on Thursday with a 7-0 win over Kingston. The Vikings scored four times in the first 13 minutes. McMillian hit the board first 10 minutes in, followed by goals from Beers, Young and Cary. Karly Witkowski added a goal in the 32nd minute and Natalie Holmberg also scored just before halftime. Maegan Theriault picked up the final goal in the 52nd minute.
The Vikings have several key matches down the stretch. After taking on Olympic Saturday — a makeup from an earlier postponed game — they face Sequim at home Tuesday. North Kitsap also has another game at Port Angeles and closes the season with an away match against Bainbridge, which currently has a perfect 7-0 record in league play.
But if the roster can get back to, and stay at, full health, the Viking should be able to push their trajectory up at the right time as they head for what appears to be a playoff berth.