NK’s historic season ends with 2nd-place state finish

Not every historic run has a storybook ending. The North Kitsap Vikings boys soccer team never reached the state finals until this season and last reached the semis in 1985. However, the Vikings fell one game short, losing to the undefeated Columbia River 4-2.

“These guys have so much heart and grit and were so competitive,” coach Greg St. Peter said. “We see this as a natural reaction of a team that had all that and more. The game was a boxing match and things didn’t go our way.”

The Rapids put the pressure on the Vikings early with a handful of shots on goalie Trevor Dill. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, Dill received a yellow card for tripping a Rapids player in the box and gave up a penalty kick. However, Dill saved the shot twice and kept the game scoreless.

Ryland Perron took a shot on the right goalie and gave the Rapids a 1-0 lead 17 minutes into the game. However, the Vikings responded with urgency.

“I’m proud of every single one of these guys,” Blake Hoepfinger said. “Everyone played their heart out and everyone played a huge role in us making it this far.”

With two minutes left in the half, a free kick from Harper Sabari made a Columbia River defender push a Viking to the ground in the box. Therefore a penalty kick was awarded and Diego DeLuna tied the game heading into halftime.

In the second half, the Vikings struck first. DeLuna’s free kick laid low to Harper Sabari’s feet and he fired the shot into the net for the 2-1 lead. Yet, the Vikings lost their composure and the game flipped. “For us, it was there and it was a great matchup for us,” St. Peter said. “We couldn’t set up enough high-percentage shots.”

Columbia River’s Evan Roscoe and Johnpaul guzman scored within two minutes of each other to take the 3-2 lead. When the Vikings looked to take the momentum back and tie it, the Rapids rapidly countered.

“When you have a guy with that speed up top, we know that danger but you have to go for it,” St. Peter said.

Alexander Harris added the fourth goal to the tally in the 65th minute. Afterward, the Vikings began to cramp up and get injured. The Vikings had a few chances in the final minutes but nothing came close to falling in. Therefore, NK finished second in the state.

“They will come out with heart,” Hopefinger said about next season. “We have a lot of young guys who are leaders. This team has so much potential to grow.”

In their semi-finals match, the Vikings defeated Pullman 2-0.

The Vikings first strike came nine minutes into the game when Pullman’s goalie was forced to dive and save a shot heading to the top corner. Pullman responded a few minutes later with a breakaway shot but was called back because of an offsides call.

North Kitsap found the back of the net in the 16th minute from a DeLuna free kick from 30 yards out. The free kick specialist aimed for the top corner before striking and giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead. Sabari hoped to add another in the first half when Mason Chiemelewski’s throw-in rebounded to Sabari at the 18-yard box. However, Sabari’s shot sailed over the bar. Sabari had one final chance in the first half with a free kick that also went over the bar.

In the second half, Pullman sent a few shots over the crossbar within the first 15 minutes. Yet, North Kitsap scored again when Logan Anderson scored on a rebound at the six-yard box. The Vikings held onto the lead for the final twenty minutes to head to the title game.