State-bound Vikings strike late, advance to district final

North Kitsap played sloppy in the first 70 minutes of its district semifinal game against Sammamish May 11, but a few late fouls woke up the Vikings, leading to a 2-1 victory.

“It was a slow start on a hot day,” Harper Sabari said. “I’m not blaming the heat or anything, but it drains the energy. We picked it up at the end and won the game.”

Even though both teams qualified for state, the Vikings will compete in the district championship game May 13 against Franklin Pierce.

NK had a handful of opportunities in the first half. Sabari had two chances that were just short of being goals. “The one that hit the bar, I was frustrated as well as the one that went in from the corner but didn’t count,” he said.

Sammamish dominated the end of the first half with a pair of corner kicks. Even though both attempts went wide, their momentum carried into the second half.

The Redhawks’ first shot came in the first 10 seconds of the half. Ten minutes later, Sammamish’s Abner Hernandez scored on a deep shot into the upper left corner.

The Vikings panicked, but regained their composure in the final 10 minutes of the game when they were awarded a penalty kick. “I had the confidence to step up and just put it away,” Sabari said. “I’ve been told goals change games, and that is what happened.”

Once NK scored, the team took over the game. North had a handful of close chances before putting it away in the final minute of regulation. “When I saw Mason [Chmielewski] put the ball down, I was wide open at midfield,” Aaron Lopez said. “I heard Ethan [Peck] call for the ball so I passed it straight through, and he scored it.”

Peck added, “On a fast play like that, all I can think about is not let the defender catch me because it comes so quickly.”

The Vikings held Sammamish to a final shot that went wide.

Aaron Lopez is responsible for the assist for the second goal.

Aaron Lopez is responsible for the assist for the second goal.