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Boys soccer: Wolves win, but face obstacles in quest for playoffs
Puget Sound-area high schools are not equipped with scoreboards that provide updates from other games.
For South Kitsap’s soccer team, that just may have been for the best.
While the Wolves won 4-0 on Tuesday night against Shelton at Joe Knowles Field, they were unable to pull into a tie for fourth place with Central Kitsap. That is because the Cougars upset Bellarmine Prep, 1-0.
Only the top four teams in the Class 4A Narrows League advance to the West Central District Tournament. That means South (8-4-2 overall, 6-4-2 league) essentially faces a must-win situation throughout the remainder of the season. The Wolves play at second-place Gig Harbor (11-2-0, 9-2-0) on Thursday before wrapping up the regular season Tuesday against Stadium. The Tigers (10-3-0, 9-3-0), who lost 2-0 on Tuesday against Gig Harbor to fall into third place, won 3-0 against South on March 16.
“We’ve got two incredibly difficult games against two of the best teams in the state,” South coach James Ritchie said. “We’ve got to raise our game again. Hopefully these teams do us a favor (against CK), but we can’t rely on that.”
CK has the same two final opponents against the Wolves in reverse order. South tied the Cougars in both regular-season meetings, but likely loses the tiebreaker for the fourth seed into districts.
Ritchie said that is based on goal differential, but he said there are other variables in that equation about which he is unclear. CK has outscored opponents by 14 goals compared with nine for the Wolves.
Ritchie said he would prefer both teams to settle the matter with a one-game playoff, if necessary.
“Let’s just go at it and see who can come out the winner,” he said. “I would love that.”
But that discussion only becomes pertinent if South can put itself in position to tie in the final two games.
The Wolves had little difficulty accomplishing that against the Highclimbers (1-10-1, 1-10-0). Junior midfielder Diego de la Cruz scored goals in the second and 30th minutes to give South an early advantage.
They were not finished there as senior midfielder Matt Stoner extended the Wolves’ advantage to 3-0 in the 35th on a header. Classmate Alex Craig finished the scoring in the 63rd when his shot was deflected by goalkeeper Dalton Jaske into the net.
“That was an excellent performance — one of the best of the year,” Ritchie said. “We were clever and tricky at times with some of the little things. I was very pleased.”
Senior goalkeeper Quintin Harris finished with the shutout, which was the sixth of the season for South.
“It was an all-around outstanding performance by the boys,” Ritchie said. “If you told me we would have four (goals), I would have ripped your arm off.”
His sentiment is similar when it comes to a postseason berth, even if it means a trip to the Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver to face the 4A Great Saint Helens League champion.
“I don’t care where we go as long as we’re in the playoffs,” Ritchie said. “It could be on the moon.”
At South Kitsap 4,
First half — 1, South Kitsap, Diego de la Cruz, 2nd minute; 2, South Kitsap, de la Cruz (Matt Stoner), 30th; 3, South Kitsap, Stoner (Evan Hancock), 35th.
Second half — 4, South Kitsap, Alex Craig (Dallas Brewster), 63rd.