A pair of goals in the match’s final minutes thwarted South Kitsap’s chances at an opening night tie as they fell 3-1 to the visiting Gig Harbor Tides March 14.
Coming into the match off two straight friendly wins the previous week, SK looked to open its regular season on the same high note. However, they faced quite the challenge in Gig Harbor, a team that finished last year as one of the best teams in 3A, winning their play-in contest before losing in the Round of 16 at state.
The Wolves drew first blood in the ninth minute on a shot from junior Jose Deluna Rubio, barely sneaking the ball into the corner of the net. For a brief moment, momentum was on the Wolves side and nearly used it to double the lead on a header shot in the 11th minute.
Little did SK coach Daniel Kilanowski know that brief interval would be the calm before the storm, as the match dissolved into something of a one-sided boxing match. The Tides largely controlled the offensive momentum for the remainder of the half, firing shot after shot at senior goalie Parker Medina.
After a plethora of shots, including a good goal waved off by an offsides call, the Tides knotted the match in the 27th minute. “They put a lot of work into the first half, Gig Harbor did,” Kilanowski said. “I told the players that they can’t sustain this pace, so I knew they were going to slack off.”
Kilanowski’s words came to fruition when, in the second half, the Wolves grabbed early momentum, nearly scoring in the 7th minute on a shot that soared inches above the crossbar. It was the closest shot the Wolves would get, however, as the Tides bided their time and finally got the look they wanted, scoring with just seven minutes left.
“We had the opportunity,” Kilanowski said. “We started pushing forward and making chances, but we got sucker-punched on the breakaway.”
The Tides put the nail in the coffin with another goal a few minutes later.
Despite the finish, Kilanowski credited his goalie and co-captain with a stellar performance. “He’s the sort of guy that likes to control the line of defense. He keeps everyone on their toes, made some good saves against some very good opposition that can finish strongly.”
Kilanowski admitted the loss was unfortunate considering the pace of the first 70 minutes compared to the final 10, but said he saw what he needed from his players and will make adjustments going forward. “This is our first competitive game, so I’m with the players, the effort they put into it. We have a lot to work with, but a lot of potential out there,” he said.