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North Kitsap looking confident in boys soccer
POULSBO — The North Kitsap High boys soccer team gained more than just a win Tuesday against Central Kitsap.
The 1-0 victory was also a shot of confidence for a team that looks primed to return to the state 3A soccer tournament this year. The Vikings (5-0 overall, 2-0 league) have now beaten three teams from the larger 4A class so far this season.
“That’s why we schedule those. It challenges the guys,” North Kitsap head coach Chris May said. “It’s not like you’re playing some kind of patsy. These games really build confidence. When players play with confidence, they feel good about themselves, they’re going to make good decisions.”
North defeated defending 4A state champion South Kitsap High in the season opener, and topped White River High, another 4A school, earlier this season. Through each of those games, as well as the team’s wins against league opponents Olympic and Port Angeles high schools, the Vikings have proven they are the team to beat in the Olympic League. They start a seven-game stretch of league play Thursday against Bremerton High.
“It’s really good to go into league with this amount of wins and looking forward to going to state,” North Kitsap goalkeeper Jordan Hadden said. “It’s really cool to beat all these 4A teams.”
Hadden and the Viking defense have only allowed one goal in their first five games, and that one was accidentally scored by a North Kitsap player. They had a few scares Tuesday against a quick Cougar offense, including a Ryan Hough shot in the 44th minute that looked like a sure goal. Senior defender Billy Gieri slid in for the save.
“It was a good shot to the outside corner, and I was caught off guard,” said Hadden, a sophomore. “I looked behind me and all the sudden I saw the ball was by me and I looked back and Billy is there on the ground.”
Hadden and Gieri’s teamwork underlines one of the main reasons for the Vikings’ success this season. The team — made up mostly of seniors and sophomores, with a few juniors and freshmen sprinkled in — has as much talent among the underclassmen as it does among the older players. Throughout Tuesday’s game, May made several substitutions and the Vikings never missed a beat.
“I think everybody contributed,” May said. “We’re looking pretty good. We have 11 or 12 sophomores who are very quality players.”
The only goal in Tuesday’s game was scored by freshman forward Ismeal DeLuna, on an assist from sophomore midfielder Carlos Tirado. Nineteen minutes into the game, Tirado flipped a ball high over the CK defense, in front of DeLuna. Goalkeeper Jordan Berkley came off his line, but the ball bounced backward where DeLuna was waiting to head it in from 15 yards out.
The game was also a chance for the Vikings to shake off some cobwebs.
“It was a good game to come back from spring break and get back in the swing of things,” May said. “We were a little rusty, it was ugly a few times out there, but both teams I think were feeling the hangover from being off on break.”
The Vikings play their next game Thursday at home against Bremerton High. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.