Boys soccer: Stadium ends South Kitsap's season

South Kitsap junior midfielder Justin Peterson was among several Wolves who applied pressure during Tuesday’s 2-0 season-ending loss against Stadium.  - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
South Kitsap junior midfielder Justin Peterson was among several Wolves who applied pressure during Tuesday’s 2-0 season-ending loss against Stadium.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

It was a reminder that success in sports often is fleeting.

Just two years after winning the first state championship in program history, South Kitsap’s boys soccer team will not advance to the postseason.

The Wolves (8-6-2 overall, 6-6-2 league) were eliminated with a 2-0 loss Tuesday night against Stadium at Joe Knowles Field.

“It’s different,” said junior Diego de la Cruz, the school’s lone remaining player from the championship team. “We’re used to being on the top level. This can be our motivation for next year.”

De la Cruz, one of the team‘s captains, was one of the few returning players for South this season.

Second-year coach James Ritchie said he anticipated some challenges because of his squad’s youth, but was pleased with its development. He cited his team’s March 16 loss against the Tigers (12-3-0, 11-3-0) at the Stadium Bowl as an example of that. Stadium scored twice in the opening 15 minutes en route to a 3-0 win.

“Last time we got our (behinds) handed to us,” Ritchie said. “We got completely outplayed.”

And this time?

“What a difference a season makes,” he said. “We matched them and outfought them. I’m just very proud of the boys.”

Ritchie said that is consistent with how he has felt about his team throughout an inconsistent season.

“The boys worked hard and were an absolute joy,” he said. “It’s an absolute pleasure - an honor - to be their coach. I’m going to really, really miss coaching them.”

The Wolves nearly took the lead on a shot by senior midfielder Dallas Brewster from about 20 yards out. But the ball ricocheted off the top crossbar in the 30th minute.

“We were unlucky,” de la Cruz said. “That crossbar in the first half would’ve changed the whole game.”

The game remained scoreless until forward Nick Raskasky’s goal in the 51st on a penalty kick.

Stadium scored its final goal in the 67th when forward Patrick Ganu beat sophomore goalkeeper Jaxom Beverage.

But Ritchie was effusive in his praise of Beverage’s play this year.

“Young Jaxom has been outstanding in goal,” he said. “He’s an outstanding prospect.”

South had a final opportunity to ruin goalkeeper Eric Owen’s shutout, but de la Cruz’s shot hit the right post.

“We had our chances and played very well,” Ritchie said.

That also could characterize the season at times. The Wolves finished fifth in the Class 4A Narrows League. The top four teams advanced to the league tournament.

“We’re not far off,” Ritchie said. “I can’t wait to get going again in the future.”

Stadium 2,
at South Kitsap 0

First half-None.
Second half-1, Stadium, Nick Raskasky (penalty kick), 51st minute;
2, Stadium, Patrick Ganu (Cesar Cervantes), 67th.

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