Former Kingston player Alex Hernandez evades a sliding tackle while playing for the Oly-Pen Force against the Vancouver Victory. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Former Kingston player Alex Hernandez evades a sliding tackle while playing for the Oly-Pen Force against the Vancouver Victory. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Oly-Pen Force men and women split a doubleheader at Gordon Field

The men solidified their playoff chances with a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Victory while the women dropped a heartbreaker 3-2 to the Washington Timbers

EAST BREMERTON — It may be summer, but soccer players of the Evergreen Premier League are still hard at work on the training grounds.

The Oly-Pen Force men’s team is off to a 3-2-1 start six games into their nine-game EPL schedule after securing a 5-1 blowout win over, ironically, the Vancouver Victory.

The win keeps the Force in good position to nab one of the two playoff spots out of the Rainier Conference. They are currently tied with PacNW SC for first place and are one point ahead of Washington Premier with three games to go.

The Force play the Seattle Sounders U23 reserves in a friendly as part of Tracyton Night at 7 p.m. on June 25 at Gordon Field in East Bremerton. They play their next two league games on the road before returning for their final regular season game at 3 p.m. on July 13.

“It’s not as serious, but it’s fun,” said former Kingston High School star Alex Hernandez, one of the local players currently playing for the Force. “That mentality is there, though.”

A chippy, physical game went largely in favor of the Force as they were able to take advantage of a couple of Vancouver’s missed assignments.

Rainier Schlekewey connected with forward Joe Sammartino twice in the first half on similar plays. Schelekewey was able to play long through balls right down the middle of the field. The first pass bounced chest-high and Sammartino had to poke it past the keeper with his leg parallel to the ground. The second feed was much cleaner and Sammartino took it on the run past a defender to beat the helpless keeper.

In the 61st minute, Jaisen Zurfluh swung a corner into a good spot in the penalty area for Cole Dobson to get his head on it and flick it into the net to give the Force a 3-1 lead.

Zurfluh scored the final two goals of the game in the last 30 minutes. In the 66th, he took a feed from Eamon Stein and cut across the face of goal and blasted a left-footed strike back against his body to put his team up 4-1. In the 81st minute, he was fouled in the box and subsequently converted on the penalty kick.

Oly-Pen Force women pushed to the brink after dropping a heartbreaker to the Washington Timbers

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Oly-Pen Force women conceded a late goal on a beautiful Timbers cross that puts them firmly in chase mode for one of the Northwest Premier League’s final two playoff spots.

The Force return to action today (Sunday) at 3 p.m. at Gordon Field against Black Hills FC in a game that was postponed earlier in the year. Their regular season finale is on the road next week against Twin City Union in Centralia. Regulation wins in both games could be enough to get them into the postseason.

It looked like the Force were headed for a draw before that shocking late Timbers goal. Former Central Kitsap star Lauren Hudson had tied the match at two in the 68th minute in typical fashion — Hudson won a physical one-on-one battle on a ball in the air, brought in down and fired a rocket into the net.

The Timbers had scored in the second minute of the game, but former South Kitsap player Emily Wilkins knotted the game at one after flagging down a bad outlet pass from the keeper and teeing up a shot from close range.

More in Sports

Brian Cox, a former South Kitsap basketball and baseball player, takes over the boys basketball program from his former coach John Callaghan.
Brian Cox, CJ Scott set to guide South Kitsap’s basketball programs

PORT ORCHARD — When the South Kitsap boys and girls basketball teams… Continue reading

Brianna Hoffman
Athlete of the Week: Brianna Hoffman, North Kitsap girls swimming

Brianna Hoffman had a difficult 2019, but things were looking up as… Continue reading

South Kitsap girls, North Kitsap boys victorious in season openers

LACEY — The Wolves trailed by 13 at halftime in their season… Continue reading

Poulsbo swim team expands to Olympic Aquatic Center

The Poulsbo Piranhas swim team has expanded its competitive swim program to… Continue reading

Athlete of the Week: Celina Madrid, South Kitsap girls soccer

No matter the opponent, no matter how big the moment was, Celina… Continue reading

Klahowya’s Rachel Bailey is the Olympic League 1A MVP for the second year in a row. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Olympic All-League volleyball: Klahowya’s Rachel Bailey nabs another MVP

Klahowya’s Rachel Bailey has been named the Olympic League 1A’s Most Valuable… Continue reading

The Central Kitsap Cougars with their third place trophy — their first in program history. They beat Lakeside 1-0 in the third place match. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Central Kitsap beats Lakeside to finish third at the 3A state tournament

PUYALLUP — Senior captain Marielle Arnold predicted her team would be ready… Continue reading

Paris Agana scored her fourth goal of the postseason in the semifinal match against Lake Washington. The Cougars lost 5-2. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Cougars can’t overcome unlucky breaks, lose to Lake Washington in 3A semifinals

Central Kitsap plays 10 a.m. Saturday for third place

Tim French coached North Kitsap’s volleyball team for 16 seasons and had a record of 269-100. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
North Kitsap’s Tim French announces his retirement from coaching

POULSBO — Nearly every November for the past eight years, North Kitsap… Continue reading

Colton Bower led North Kitsap with 1,345 passing yards, 1,094 rushing yards and 22 total touchdowns. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
2A, 3A, 4A all-league football teams: NK’s Colton Bower snags Olympic League MVP

North Kitsap quarterback Colton Bower can add another accolade to his growing… Continue reading

Klahowya libero Maile Lueck embraces her teammate Rachel Bailey (3) after winning their first set against Cascade Christian. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Klahowya’s historic season comes to an end in the 1A district tournament

SILVERDALE — The best and most successful season in Klahowya volleyball history… Continue reading