POULSBO — One young fan couldn’t wait.
“Only three minutes to go!” she squealed, staring intently at the North Kitsap High School field only moments before the Seattle Sounders were due.
Unfortunately, her enthusiasm bounded over the laws of time and space; the clock revealed three and a half minutes until the professional team from Seattle faced the Seattle Pacific University Falcons.
But the girl’s love for soccer wasn’t hushed; in fact, it was encouraged. North Kitsap fans love soccer like snooty Frenchman love cheese, and nowhere was that love more apparent than NKHS Saturday night, where the Sounders and Falcons clashed in an exhibition match that raised money for North Kitsap soccer clubs.
When Sounder Leighton O’Brien missed a short pass that would have meant a point-blank shot, the crowd groaned.
When Sounder goalie Carlos Castellanos snagged an SPU throw-in one handed, tapped it for a moment between his palms to control it, then booted it away, the crowd oooohed.
And when Sounder forward Jason Farrell caught up to a ball in midair and headed it towards the SPU goal, only to have the Falcons’ James Ward dive and snag bullet of a shot with his fingertips, the crowd erupted into appreciative applause.
North Kitsap coach Dave O’Brien, who coaches FC Kitsap boys U-18 red, was asked if the community loved soccer.
“You can tell that just by looking at the stands,” he said, glancing over his shoulder, where netheads of all ages sat shoulder-to-shoulder, packing most of the stadium with more than 1,500 fans.
O’Brien had participated in a pregame coaching clinic with the Falcons’ Cliff McCrath — You can tell just by watching the way this guy ran a practice that he was a pro,” O’Brien said.
But the fans at the game didn’t need formal coaching, O’Brien said; they could learn just by watching the superb soccer that unfolded on North Kitsap’s field Saturday night.
“This way, they get to learn soccer without their coach ragging on them,” O’Brien said with a chuckle.
The game went scoreless for the first 20 minutes; then the Sounders’ Kyle Smith scored two first-half goals, both assisted by Leighton O’Brien, to propel the Sounders ahead of their collegiate opponent.
The Sounders ended up the victors by a 5-1 score.
They weren’t the only winners.
For all four years the Sounders have visited North Kitsap, the money has gone toward local soccer clubs. This year was no exception, with half of each $8 ticket going to Washington State Youth Soccer District, 4, which sponsors the exhibition game, and the other half going to the club that sells the tickets.
North Kitsap Soccer Club sold 275 tickets. And if the crowded stadium was any indication, it was a good evening indeed for North Kitsap soccer.