PUYALLUP — South Kitsap is back in the postseason win column.
A dramatic 60th-minute goal by junior right back George Robertson gave the Wolves a 2-1 lead in their loser-out 4A bi-district tournament match against Decatur May 8, and it proved to be the game-winner. South Kitsap hadn’t won a postseason game since 2009 when it won a state championship.
“It’s good for the program and it’s definitely great for the seniors,” head coach Cory Vartanian said.
Robertson’s second-half goal caught everyone by surprise, including the Decatur keeper.
The shot came not only from 30 yards out, but also the right sideline, and as it traveled toward the net for what felt like an eternity, there was growing excitement as the fans and players realized the keeper was too far off his line to make a play. The ball hit the top corner of the net, touching off a celebration.
The goal capped 20 minutes of intense play. Decatur had tied the game just before the end of the first half, as the Wolves fell a little flat in the final 15 minutes. But they started the second half with possession of the ball and plenty of energy, looking to get more shots on net.
“We were thinking about that,” forward Grant Larson said. “We were trying to get that ball to connect to one of the wingers or strikers and it ended up being George, our right back.”
South Kitsap took an early 1-0 lead on Larson’s goal in the seventh minute. Eduardo DeLaCruz won possession of the ball at midfield and played a long ball over the top to Larson. The senior forward settled it down and popped it into the net.
Larson had nearly scored in a similar manner a few minutes earlier, but the Gators keeper had come way out of the net to challenge the shot and Larson ended up with no room to shoot.
“As far as what they were showing us defensively, that’s exactly what was there, so we were taking advantage of it,” Vartanian said.
Decatur tied the game in the 38th minute. Dima Zorchenko got a clean look at the net from inside the penalty area and while South Kitsap keeper Hunter Million made an outstanding diving save while in the air, the rebound dropped right to the feet of Emmanuel Musgrove, who had an easy tap-in.
The win gave the Wolves life for at least a couple more days. Their next game took place May 10 at Curtis High School against Mount Rainier in another loser-out game, after the press deadline for the Port Orchard Independent. The winner of that game secured a place in the 4A state tournament and faces the winner of a matchup between Heritage and Sumner at 7:30 p.m. on May 12 at Sparks Stadium, which will determine final seeding.
“We’ve been working together this whole year. It’s finally come together in the second half of the season,” Larson said. “It’s all about team building. It’s like a brotherhood more than a team; we’re all family, that’s what means the most to us.”
South Kitsap 2, Decatur 1
First half — SK, Grant Larson (Eduardo DeLaCruz), 7th; D, Emmanuel Musgrove (Dima Zorchenko), 38th.
Second half — SK, George Robertson, 60th.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org