Mitchell Balmer battles for a loose ball against the Seattle Sounders U23 reserves on Tuesday at Gordon Field. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Mitchell Balmer battles for a loose ball against the Seattle Sounders U23 reserves on Tuesday at Gordon Field. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Seattle Sounders U23 defeat the Force in a friendly

EAST BREMERTON — The Oly-Pen Force men’s team is getting ready for the homestretch in the 2019 Evergreen Premier League season and got a chance to play against much tougher competition Tuesday at Gordon Field.

The Force welcomed the Seattle Sounders U23 reserves to the Fairgrounds and got all they could handle. The Sounders led 3-2 halftime in what was a close match, but their speed and skill proved to be too much as they scored the next five goals.

“It was tough,” said Grant Larson, who graduated from South Kitsap last season and now plays at Northwest Nazarene University. “Their speed of play was much faster and their center-mids were much cleaner in getting forward.”

The Sounders opened the scoring in the fourth minute, but the Force drew level just 60 seconds later. During a fastbreak, Rainier Schlekewey dished the ball to Mitchell Balmer who had to dribble through one defender and cut to the middle before popping a left-footed strike into the net.

The Force then took a 2-1 lead as Joe Sammartino converted a penalty kick in the 18th minute, but from there on it was all Sounders as they cruised to an 8-2 win.

“They always had three or four or five guys ready to attack and our defense couldn’t handle that much pressure,” Larson said.

Fortunately, the Force won’t face that level of competition in their final three EPLWA games that take place over the next three weekends.

The team is currently tied for first place in the Rainier Conference with a visit to Spokane Shadow coming on June 29. The Force then take on Washington Premier in Puyallup on July 6 before returning home for their regular season finale against Spokane Shadow at 3 p.m. on July 13 at Gordon Field.

Four teams qualify for the EPLWA playoffs, which begin the weekend of July 20.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

More in Sports

North Kitsap junior Makalya Stockman was named one of the game’s MVPs. Stockman picked up a hit and struck out four batters in two innings. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Nationals beat the Americans 11-7 in 18th KAR Softball Showcase

Some of the West Sound’s best softball players took the field Tuesday… Continue reading

Johny Olmsted calls the play as he directs the offense against Central Kitsap. Olmsted led North Kitsap with 26 points in the 79-51 victory. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Olmsted’s 26-point night leads NK past CK

Playing in their home gym for the first time in over a… Continue reading

Areeza Amian led South Kitsap with 15 points in her team’s 66-32 win over Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
South Kitsap knocks off Central Kitsap, 66-32, in season opener

South Kitsap girls basketball fans can expect to see plenty of action… Continue reading

Everett Moore gets up and over the Olympic defense for a shot attempt. Moore hit four 3-pointers in Bainbridge’s win over the Trojans. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge improves to 2-0 with 73-34 rout over Olympic

Two games, two 70+ point performances and two wins. It seems Bainbridge… Continue reading

Kaden Ecklund finished the final game against Curtis 3-4 with three doubles, four RBI and a stolen base. (Independent File Photo)
SK baseball takes 3rd in SPSL

South Kitsap’s win over Sumner last week gave them a shot at… Continue reading

Marisol Bergstrom led South Kitsap with a .600 batting average and 28 stolen bases this year. (Independent File Photo)
SK falls to Puyallup in SPSL tournament

South Kitsap and Puyallup have had a number of great battles on… Continue reading

Kingston’s Ellee Brockman paced the offense on Opening Night, scoring 23 points in a 49-40 win over North Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Brockman’s 23 points lead Kingston past N. Kitsap

Coaches, players and fans have been waiting a long time for the… Continue reading

Samantha Burgh drops down a bunt against Sequim. Burgh recorded two hits and a sacrifice in the 2-1 victory. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
NK beats Sequim, falls to Bainbridge in title game

North Kitsap started the Olympic League tournament Saturday with a hard-fought victory… Continue reading

Cole Edwards entered the game against Port Angeles in the fifth inning and kept the offense off the board. He also tied the game with an RBI-triple in the sixth. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
NK gets monkey off its back, beats PA

North Kitsap’s recent history against Port Angeles hasn’t been pretty, but the… Continue reading

Miranda Grogger gave up just one run and did not walk a batter in the Olympic League championship game against North Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge defies the odd, grabs softball title

The old cliché tells you to throw out the record books when… Continue reading

JR Ritchie stole the show in the championship game with a no-hitter and 18 strikeouts against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Ritchie’s no-hitter, 18 K’s lead BI to league title

2021 could have been an incredible year for the Bainbridge baseball program.… Continue reading

Sarah Hoyt delivers an RBI in the sixth inning of a 14-12 win over Gig Harbor. (Mark Krulish |Kitsap News Group)
South Kitsap outslugs Gig Harbor, 14-12, to improve to 5-0

South Kitsap’s bats have been hot all season long. Entering Monday’s game… Continue reading