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Vikings ride white-knuckle victory into districts
POULSBO – With the fate of the season resting on his shoulders, North Kitsap goalkeeper Jordan Hadden saved his team’s playoff chances not once but twice Monday night.
After two overtimes, the Vikings’ sub-district playoff game against the North Thurston Rams was to be decided by penalty kicks. North Thurston’s Kenny Heo lined up for his team’s final kick with the score even at three goals apiece. Heo took the shot, and Hadden sprang to his right to save the ball just inches from the goal line. But the try was called back. Heo had shot too soon.
“I knew that he went before the whistle, so I kind of thought he was going to get a re-kick,” Hadden said. “I was like, ‘Oh, man, this is not going to end well.’”
On the second try, Heo pushed the ball low to Hadden’s left. Once again, Hadden made the save, just inches from the goal line. The home crowd and Viking bench erupted in celebration. All that was left was for senior defender Billy Gieri to make the Vikings’ final shot, which would give them a 4-3 victory.
Gieri did just that, and put the game away with ease.
“I think it comes down to Jordan saving that goal,” Gieri said. “I don’t know, I’m just too happy right now.”
But the Vikings wouldn’t have made it past the end of regulation time if it weren’t for a comeback goal from senior forward Pat Mullen earlier in the game. Mullen’s goal in the 61st minute brought the Vikings back from a 1-0 deficit and renewed the team’s confidence.
“Pat’s been a good player the whole year. He’s always come up when we needed it,” Gieri said. “After Pat’s goal, we realized that we had this game and this is our home and we’re not going to lose here this year.”
The Vikings have not lost at home since 2007.
North Kitsap now heads into the West Central District III tournament Saturday, where they will face either Yelm or Olympic High.
The win was a chance for the Vikings to redeem themselves after their only loss of the season, which happened May 6 against Olympic League champion Bremerton High.
“They showed a lot of character, coming back after we played probably our worst game of the year, against Bremerton,” North Kitsap coach Chris May said. “We bounced back from a bad game, right at the right time. Now we’re on a high going into Saturday.”