POULSBO — A cohesive and protective back row of defenders is the base of a solid soccer squad. It is not only one of a team’s last lines of defense, it is also in many ways the starting point of any offensive push.
Tuesday night, when North Kitsap dropped its first contest of the 2007 season to a fleet Stadium Tiger team, the Vikings were short four of their premier defensive backs, coach Chris May said.
The absences were due to eligibility in some cases, vacations in others. It’s no excuse, May said, but it definitely made things difficult for NK.
“You have to build a team from the defense in my mind,” May said. “A lot of times when you don’t have (strong) defense and the forwards and the midfielders see that, they try to fall back and compensate.”
On Tuesday, North’s forwards and midfielders had to do so in more ways than one. May was forced to play some players out of position while those front and midfielders were also mainly on the defensive.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead as Oscar Vegas booted in the first goal of the game in the 20th minute. For the remainder of the first half, North’s offensive attacks came in spurts while the Viking defense struggled to protect.
Though a set of speedy Stadium wings got back quicker than North on a few occasions, Sam Mouser and the Viking defense sprinted to disrupt.
Viking forwards Juraj Popluhar, Zack Sampson and Ashenafi Carlson pressed the issue when they got the chance, but Stadium’s defense was successful in sealing off shot attempts and making North’s first-half offense a hectic ordeal.
Finally, just under the two minute mark, Popluhar broke free and fired a straight shot from about 15 yards out. But the ball skipped off the crossbar and the half ended with Stadium up 1-0.
“I think we ran with the other team pretty well … our middle and front guys matched up with them,” May said. “(But) they had some quick outside guys that we couldn’t match up very well with on defense.”
Two minutes into the second half, NK keeper Devin Langaker shielded a shot from one of those players with a diving save. Then in the 44th minute Stadium’s T.J. Squires bent a corner kick through Langaker’s arms to take a 2-0 lead.
From then on, all North Kitsap’s attempts were futile. The Tigers picked up one more goal in the 67th minute by Andrew Nelson, making the final score 3-0.
“I don’t think we played all that bad,” May said. “We held our own against them, but the score didn’t look like it.”
With hopes of getting their full line up back in play, the Vikings will face Bainbridge on the island today at 1:45 p.m. JV will precede at noon. Next week, the Vikings will host Bellarmine at 6:45 p.m. March 27 before traveling to take on Olympia March 29.