PORT ORCHARD — It’s been a roller coaster season for South Kitsap’s boys soccer team, but here they are again in a familiar position — playing good soccer at the right time of year, giving themselves a chance to make a postseason run.
They haven’t made the big dance yet, but they took care of step one on April 30 at home, getting an important three points in a 1-0 victory over Bellarmine Prep.
Blake Mason scored the match’s only goal in the 62nd minute and the Wolves defended in the final 15 minutes with the passion and desperation necessary to keep their season alive.
“It was a well-deserved win. I thought the boys really deserved to win tonight,” head coach Cory Vartanian said.
With one league game to go, the team is now in control of its own destiny, thanks to some favorable results from Tuesday’s matches.
Rogers tied Emerald Ridge and Puyallup beat Olympia in regulation, putting South Kitsap in a three-way tie with Rogers and Curtis for the final three playoff spots. However, Olympia and Bellarmine trail the three-team pack by only one and two points, respectively.
So the mission on Friday at Rogers is simple — pick up three points and punch a ticket to the district tournament for the fourth consecutive season. With any other result, they could still get in — but they may need some help.
It was Senior Night at Kitsap Bank Stadium and those playing in perhaps their last home game were certainly a part of the winning effort.
It was senior defender Christion Lopez who made a great hustle play to keep a ball alive on the sideline and then sent it down the field. The ball eventually reached Mason, who dribbled down the right side and was able to tuck the ball into the corner of the net to break the deadlock.
“It was a great finish and a well set-up play,” Vartanian said. “Blake did a good job staying with it and finishing it off.”
Goalkeeper Hunter Million, who split the clean sheet with senior Ben Riehl, was tested several times over the game’s final minutes — and he was up to the task. A volley into the box in the 65th minute bounced around and Million had to tap it like a juggler several different times before eventually bringing it to safety.
On a Bellarmine corner in the 72nd minute, Million managed to get a piece of a header destined for the net and sent it onto the crossbar.
The Lions continued to pour on the pressure, but their efforts were to no avail. The final whistle sounded and the Wolves had the three points they desperately needed.
“Every year, the second game we play against Bellarmine always seems to be a deciding match,” Vartanian said. “And it was a classic physical Bellarmine-South game.”