PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap is searching for an offensive spark.
Coming into an Oct. 17 match against Bellarmine Prep, the Wolves had scored just three goals in the past four games, earning only one point in that span.
“We still need to find more connections on offense,” said South Kitsap head coach K-Lee Haynes. “I think my defense is pretty solid in their formation. Now I think it’s about finding a stronger connection between the midfield and the forwards and getting a stronger attack going and getting more shots on net.”
The Wolves were a much more confident, composed and decisive group against Bellarmine, creating better quality chances and getting a few more shots towards goal, but they were not able to find the back of the net and lost, 1-0.
The match was as close as the scoreboard indicated — the two teams spent much of the first half trying to break down the opposing defenses, but the respective backlines did a good job of not allowing the offenses much room in the dangerous areas of the pitch.
South Kitsap’s best chance came at the end of the first half when junior forward Eliza Villarma was able to get loose and let go of a right-footed strike from inside 20 yards, but Bellarmine keeper Isabelle Davis was able to make the stop.
Also among the highlights for the Wolves was goalkeeper Megan Nail, who made her first start of the season. Nail was called upon to make several outstanding saves and was fearless in her play, often throwing herself onto loose balls in the penalty area with opposing players bearing down on her.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Lions finally broke through on the scoreboard. A fortunate bounce allowed Bellarmine forward Sam McKiernan to get past her defender and slide the ball over to Sydney DeVita, who finished the scoring opportunity for the game’s only goal.
From there, South Kitsap continued to pour on pressure, but, on each opportunity, could not execute that one final pass to set up someone for an open look. The Lions did a good job of forcing the Wolves to the outside and limiting the number of quality crosses into the box.
“They’ve been finding their balance. The positions I have the girls playing in now, I think they’re more used to it and more comfortable with it,” Haynes said after the match.
“When we can keep the ball at our feet and play it on the ground, we’re tough competition.”
South Kitsap has three games remaining — away games at Rogers and Curtis and one final home match against Emerald Ridge. The Wolves are currently holding on to the last playoff spot for the district tournament, but need to continue earning points to fend off Rogers and Olympia, which are four and six points behind respectively.
“If we win them all, I’ll feel comfortable,” Haynes said.