POULSBO — The Vikings were riding high just a few weeks ago after beating their longtime rival Kingston, sweeping both games.
Then they hit a bit of a lull. A tough 1-0 loss to Bremerton was followed by defeats at the hands of Sequim, Klahowya and Port Angeles.
But the team quickly recovered. They beat Olympic 2-1 on April 26 and then closed the regular season with a 3-0 win over North Mason to sew up third place in the Olympic League.
The 2A West Central District III tournament gets going today at Franklin Pierce High School. The Vikings’ opponent will be Foss. If North Kitsap wins that game, they will face Highline at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7.
“It’s been a lot of peaks and valleys with this group,” said North Kitsap head coach Greg St. Peter.
There was no better example of that than Monday’s game against North Mason, the regular season finale. The Vikings were the better team, but rather disorganized and had trouble connecting passes and playing as a group. They did manage a late first half goal when Wyatt Murphy pounced on a loose ball in the box, but their overall play certainly left something to be desired.
Then the second half came and North Kitsap (7-5-0, 7-7-1) looked like a different team. They strung passes together well and made the next two goals they scored look easy.
A long pass out of their own end found junior midfielder Charles La Tour in stride. He had a long way to go, but held off two North Mason defenders and scored a breakaway goal to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Murphy set up the third goal, putting one on a tee for Cameron Peaslee after several solid passes helped open up the scoring chance.
“Trying to find those combinations and what’s going to make these guys tick,” St. Peter said. “That’s been the biggest challenge for me as a coach is trying to get the most out of them on a consistent level.”
St. Peter felt his team had enough talent to challenge Port Angeles for second place, but the Roughriders got the best of them both times. Sequim (12-0-0, 14-0-2) ran the table and won the league championship.
“I think we projected to be here,” St. Peter said. And we’re on the uptick now coming out of that slump.”
Here are the rest of Saturday’s opening round soccer matchups.
2A: Bremerton at Foss, 2 p.m. at Franklin Pierce High School.
The Knights are back in the playoffs thanks to big wins over Kingston and Port Angeles towards the end of the season. Bremerton ended Kingston’s run of 12 consecutive postseason appearances. Renton finished the season third in the SPSL 2A North with an 8-3-5 record.
3A: Central Kitsap at Bethel, 7 p.m. at Art Crate Field (Spanaway)
The Cougars clinched fourth place on Thursday after tying North Thurston. Had they finished fifth, they would have taken a long trip down to Vancouver to play Prairie. Instead, they head to Art Crate Field in Spanaway to take on Bethel, the No. 3 team from the Pierce County League, which finished the year 11-4-1.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.