POULSBO — Vikings forward Stephanie Skelly sped towards the goal alone with a chance to give the North Kitsap Vikings soccer squad a win in its second game of the season against Bremerton Thursday night. With the score knotted at 2 apiece and just under three minutes remaining in regulation, Skelly carried the ball towards Bremerton’s net going one-on-one with Knights goalie Luci Bocklie.
“I knew that I didn’t want to shank it,” Skelly said of the breakaway. “I didn’t want to hit it over the crossbar. I felt like I had to place it.”
Bocklie was able to deflect her shot, preserving the tie for the Knights.
“I thought it was a done deal,” Vikings coach Pat Stickney said of Skelly’s final shot to score. “Stephanie doesn’t miss those too often. She froze for just a touch and Bremerton’s goalie guessed right and was able to stop the goal. We were just unlucky.”
Skelly said she wasn’t disappointed with the Vikings second consecutive tie to open the season.
“We were behind for a pretty long time and were able to come back from behind to tie it up,” she said. “It was a good team effort.”
In the third minute of the game, North put themselves on the scoreboard first as Sydney Byers delivered a perfect cross on a free kick to freshman forward Eyla Le, who nailed a header passed the outstretched arms of Bocklie, giving North an early 1-0 lead. Bremerton answered back with a Jacki Hill goal (12th minute) and Crystal Trumper score (14th minute) handing North a 2-1 deficit.
The Vikings trailed the Knights for the next 54 minutes of play until the duo of Siara Byers and Skelly delivered a breakthrough for the Vikings.
Byers unveiled a beautiful pass, hitting a motoring Skelly on a breakaway through the middle of the Bremerton defense. Skelly scored from eight yards out in the 68th minute tying the game and perhaps more importantly, giving North a much needed boost in confidence.
“I think that goal lifted our whole team confidence wise,” Skelly said. “We went through a long lull there where we didn’t score and that goal energized us.”
Stickney was proud of the way his team performed against one of the better teams in the Olympic League. Bremerton finished with an overall record of 12-4 in 2006.
“I liked the way we came back. It was a hard fought game,” he said. “I enjoy coaching against Lance McCoy (BHS soccer coach) teams. They’re well disciplined and know how to play the game. Lance has turned that program around.”