PORT ORCHARD — After two tough league matchups against Puyallup and Sumner, the Wolves were looking for a bounce back effort against Olympia.
But the Bears struck twice in the second half to erase a 1-0 South Kitsap lead, taking the match 2-1 and dropping the Wolves to 1-3-0 to start the season.
“We definitely didn’t play up to par tonight,” head coach Cory Vartanian said. “I think the boys know that.”
It was an entertaining contest — the two teams play similar styles, often looking to send the ball over the top for a fastbreak, and were evenly-matched in term of size and skill.
The Wolves took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Colin Nuss. Grant Larson flagged down a goal kick from keeper Hunter Million and made a terrific pass to spring free Nuss. The senior forward slipped behind the defense and buried a shot in the low corner.
For a team that was shutout in its previous two league matches, a goal five minutes into the second half was manna from heaven. A win, or at least a draw, would have given the Wolves a chance to stay in or near the top four in the South Puget Sound League standings. But Olympia had other ideas.
In the 50th minute, an Olympia free kick fell into the 18-yard box and right to the feet of sophomore Adam Rapacz, who deposited the ball into the back of the net to tie the game.
The Wolves received a golden opportunity to go back ahead in the 62nd minute when the Olympia keeper was called for a foul near his net on a corner kick, giving South Kitsap a penalty kick. Larson took aim from the penalty spot, but the keeper dove to his left and stretched out to make the save.
Just a few minutes later, Olympia’s Julian Desmond uncorked a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that was too hot to handle. Million leaped to make the save, but the ball glanced off the top of his fingers and into the net.
It would hold up as the decisive goal, though the Wolves pushed to the end. The Bears mostly kept South Kitsap out of the most dangerous offensive areas over the final 15 minutes.
“We’re still jelling, we’ve still got some new faces on the team,” Vartanian said. “We’ve got some guys in positions they normally dont play, so it’s a matter of jelling and getting used to one another and then moving forward.”
Next up for South Kitsap is a March 29 matchup against a Bellarmine Prep team that is winless through four games and then Rogers, which is also currently 1-3-0. Picking up points over the next stretch of matches will be crucial to keeping pace in the SPSL.
“We dug ourselves a hole, so now it’s a question of how are we going to get ourselves out of it?” Vartanian said.
Klahowya 2, North Kitsap 0
Two goals by Darius Joe were more than enough for the Eagles as they knocked off North Kitsap, 2-0. Joe scored early in the first half, and then struck again in the second half for a great goal as he outworked his defender to get off a shot.
Central Kitsap 1, Timberline 0
Carter Nilsen scored in the 14th minute against the Blazers, leading the Cougars to a 1-0 victory. Nilsen’s cross was intended to hit a teammate in the box, but the ball found its way into the net for the only score of the game.
- Sequim 2, Kingston 1
- Bremerton 5, Olympic 1
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.