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Vikings clinch Olympic League soccer title
POULSBO — The North Kitsap Vikings clinched the Olympic League girls soccer title Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Port Angeles.
Senior forward Siara Byers had all three goals for the Vikings. The shutout was the sixth of the season for goalkeeper Heather Martin and the Vikings (9-0-1 league, 10-1-2 overall).
“One of our goals was to win league. Now, at this stage, it’s to go undefeated,” said NK Head Coach Dee Taylor, who was out of town on business during Tuesday’s game.
The Vikings have two regular season games remaining, against Olympic League rivals Bremerton and Klahowya, before heading into district playoffs Nov. 3.
Despite being absent one head coach and a handful of injured players, North Kitsap took control of the tempo early in Tuesday’s match, maintaining possession for the bulk of the game and heavily outshooting Port Angeles. The Roughriders created a few opportunities of their own at points during each half, but were unable to capitalize against the staunch Viking defense.
“I definitely have to say the defense picked it up this year,” Martin said.
Byers kicked off the action for the North Kitsap offense midway through the first half. Unassisted, Byers took the ball across the top of the penalty box and ripped a shot from the left side into the top right corner of the goal to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
Just before halftime, sophomore Jessica Sprague was tripped along the left side of the penalty box. The penalty set up a Rachel Fisk free kick, which Byers headed in for the Vikings’ second goal.
Midway through the second half, Byers completed her hat trick, this time with help from fellow senior Madi Taylor. Taylor took the ball from 35 yards out and slashed through the center of the Roughrider defense, drawing players toward her before feeding a pass to Byers. Byers broke free on the left side of the penalty box and quickly knocked Taylor’s pass into the net.
Even with a healthy lead late in the game, North Kitsap kept the pressure on. Byers moved back to play sweeper, giving other players a chance for touches on offense, but the Vikings continued to control the ball.
“When you’re up 3-0, it’s hard to keep the intensity and not back down,” NK Assistant Coach Nicole Funk said. “The biggest challenge is to continue to play our game and our style.”
North Kitsap played and shut out its two remaining opponents in earlier games this season, and the results of the final two matches are of no consequence to the Vikings’ playoff hopes. But Taylor said he would like his squad to finish 2009 with wins, and will not underestimate any team, in the regular season or beyond.
“We’re way far away from taking anyone for granted,” Taylor said. “Regardless of our opposition, our goal has been playing the North Kitsap way.”