PORT ORCHARD — Although the final score wasn’t in its favor, South Kitsap boys soccer team got to end the season by being part of the state tournament in front of the home crowd.
Wins over Decatur and Mount Rainier — followed by a 2-1 loss to Sumner — gave the Wolves the right to host a state tournament game.
It’s never been done here before — a state tournament game being hosted for the soccer team,” head coach Cory Vartanian said. “So that’s awesome. It’s awesome for our community, it’s awesome for our school district, it’s awesome for our athletic department.”
That was the good news for the Wolves. The not-so-good news? Standing on the other side of the pitch was the super-talented Mount Vernon team.
The visiting Bulldogs finished tied for the best record in the ultra-competitive 4A Division of the Wesco Conference.
Playing at the top of their game, Mount Vernon demonstrated their terrific quickness and pinball passing, which controlled the play through most of the match.
After a sixth-minute goal by the Bulldogs, a turnover in the South Kitsap half reached the back of the net seemingly within the blink of an eye. Once the Wolves’ defender gave away possession, Jonathan Soto-Garcia never took control of the ball. Instead, he simply flicked it with one touch into the box for a header by Marco Quezada and a 2-0 Mount Vernon lead.
“I’ve never seen a high school team be able to switch the ball 40-50 yards across the field and take a touch and deliver a through ball,” Vartanian said.
“That’s a phenomenal team,” he added.
The Wolves did manage a few chances. In the 18th minute, Eduardo Delacruz sent a long ball to Grant Larson on the left wing and his cross floated mere inches over the head of Logan Anchick, who was otherwise open for a good scoring opportunity.
In the second half, a free kick by David Mansfield connected with the head of junior back George Robertson, but his header went straight into the crossbar.
South Kitsap hit the woodwork a second time on another free kick after the Mount Vernon keeper picked up the ball with his hands outside the box. The ball dropped to Anchick, who successfully lifted it over the keeper, but hit the crossbar in the process. Larson had a second chance at the rebound but headed the ball just over the net.
Mount Vernon added two more goals in the second half and never really relinquished control of the game.
The Wolves’ first trip to the state tournament since 2009 was a short one. But for seniors Quinn Dick, David Mansfield, Grant Larson, Colin Nuss and Andrew Sullivan, it was their first and last taste of the state prep playoffs.
“It tasted good,” Larson said. “However short it was, it was still nice to be here and to have it at home with the crowd and our family.”
But with seven starters and a cadre of part-time players and backups returning next year, the experience was a positive one and should bode well for the program down the road.
“We didn’t necessarily make ultimate goals for this year, but knowing [the seniors] their ultimate goal was to make the state tournament,” Vartanian said. “They did so and we’re still going to walk away happy with that accomplishment.”
Mount Vernon 4, South Kitsap 0
First half — MV, Francisco Delacruz (Andres Macedo-Flores), 6th; MV, Marco Quezada (Jonathan Soto-Garica), 25th.
Second half — MV, Jonathan Salazar (Dakota Stamnes), 45th; MV, Quezada, 69th.