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Girls soccer: Wolves beat Bellarmine, move into first-place tie
The delivery hardly was subtle.
South Kitsap's girls soccer team had just played to its second tie in as many Class 4A Narrows League matches. And Wolves coach Julie Cain told her team that its effort was insufficient.
For a school-record third consecutive time Tuesday night, South defeated perennial league championship contender Bellarmine Prep 2-1. It also marked the third consecutive Narrows win for the Wolves (5-0-2 overall, 3-0-2 league) since the talk.
“We had a little heart to heart the day after the second tie,” Cain said. “I just didn’t think they were 100 percent bringing it every day to practice and games. They agreed with that and they’ve been working hard ever since. I think it was a turning point in our season.”
The consecutive ties against Stadium and Central Kitsap put South in a difficult position from a playoff perspective because only the top four teams in the league advance to districts. But the three consecutive wins have catapulted the Wolves into a tie with Stadium for first place ahead of the Lions (5-1-1, 3-1-1).
It started early as senior midfielder Riley Dopps took a rebound off the goalkeeper and kicked it back into the left side of the net to give South a 1-0 lead in the second minute.
“I honestly didn’t think it was going to go in,” Dopps said. “She fumbled it and it just popped right into the goal.”
Cain, whose team has outscored its opponents 14-2 in its last three wins, said the early goal was significant in building momentum.
“What we’ve said is we’ve got to put teams away earlier,” she said. “You’ve got to put a team like that away because they’re good, they score a lot of goals and they’re going to be dangerous.”
But the Wolves, who have won four of their last five games against Bellarmine, were not finished. Sophomore forward Brita Oleson scored on an assist from classmate Miranda Caballero to take a 2-0 lead in the 38th.
“The keeper dropped it and she followed it,” Cain said of Oleson. “She’s so aggressive and tenacious.”
The Lions then put relentless pressure on junior goalkeeper Brianna Smallige during the second half. At times, Bellarmine put three players at forward and five more in the midfield. Despite that, the Lions only scored in the 59th when midfielder Danielle Nurmi kicked it into the left corner of the goal.
“It’s a lot of people to defend against and I thought we did a great job,” Cain said.
She said it also was significant that her team gained possession on most of the balls in the air for the first time this year.
Dopps said that was a focal point when Cain addressed the team after the two ties.
“Basically, we knew we had some technical things to work on,” she said. “We had to work on things like winning the ball in the air and better possession. We really tightened those things up in practice.”
Cain said Caballero was a significant part of that effort against the Lions.
“The last couple of games I really think she has been the core of us winning balls in the air,” she said. “She’s just dominant.”
South won the Narrows League Tournament championship last year against Bellarmine Prep and even though it won’t have that opportunity again because of the new playoff format, Cain said this game had a similar feel.
“We were talking about how this could be a playoff final,” she said. “It’s a big, huge game for us and I just wanted to make sure we were up.”
At South Kitsap 2, Bellarmine Prep 1
First half: 1, South Kitsap, Riley Dopps (Brita Oleson), 2nd minute; 2, South Kitsap, Oleson (Miranda Caballero), 38th.
Second half: 3, Bellarmine Prep, Danielle Nurmi, 59th.
At Mount Tahoma 8, South Kitsap 0
First half: 1, South Kitsap, Brita Oleson (Becca Schoales), 3rd minute; 2, South Kitsap, Riley Dopps, 9th; 3, South Kitsap, Schoales, 13th; 4, South Kitsap, Shannon Powers (Dopps), 34th.
Second half: 5, South Kitsap, Oleson (Miranda Caballero), 48th; 6, South Kitsap, Schoales (Caballero), 52nd; 7, South Kitsap, Oleson (Delaney Digiovanni), 65th; 8, South Kitsap, Claire Posadas, 69th.