Sports

Girls soccer: Wolves eventually find their way to win

TACOMA — It was not the marquee match of the week.

That status was reserved for Thursday’s Class 4A Narrows League showdown against Bellarmine Prep.

In preparation for that match, South Kitsap coach Julie Cain left several of her players back in Port Orchard to practice as a split squad won 4-0 on Tuesday night at Mount Tahoma. Only a dozen players mixed with varsity and junior-varsity athletes traveled for the match.

“We wanted to do an attacking practice with a small group and it was an opportunity to do that,” she said.

There was speculation beforehand that the entire group might have stayed in Port Orchard.

Cain said her team arrived late because the bus took a wrong turn. That resulted in the match being cut by 10 minutes.

That did not affect the Wolves (9-2-1 overall, 8-2-1 league), who remained in a first-place tie with Bellarmine in 4A Narrows with 25 points, as they scored in the 23rd minute when midfielder Natalie Stephens found senior forward Amy Barkalarski for a goal.

Stephens then added her own goals in the 33rd and 34th minutes.

“She’s quick and possesses it really well,” Cain said. “She’s a skilled player and is smart. She just needs some strength as a freshman to move into the next role on our team, but she’s going to be great in the future.”

Both goals were assisted by sophomore defender Tarah West. Cain said West recently ran the second-quickest sprint on the team behind junior forward Becca Schoales.

“If we subbed more on our backline, she would be on varsity,” she said. “She’s good in the air and is a skilled player.”

The final goal against the Thunderbirds (0-12-0, 0-11-0) came in the 68th when sophomore Emily Wilkins scored on a cross from classmate Annie Santa Cruz.

“I thought we came out and played great,” said Cain, adding that it also was an opportunity for her to view younger players. “I thought we possessed it well. We got a lot of shots on goal.”

By beating Mount Tahoma, South clinched a playoff berth in the West Central District Tournament. The Wolves could have done that with a win Thursday, but they lost 2-1 against Olympia.

“Honestly, our second half against Olympia was one of the best halves we’ve played in three years,” said Cain, who noted that South outshot the Bears 15-5. “We just couldn’t put it into the net.”

The Wolves play Tuesday at Shelton and then close out the regular season Oct. 27 against Gig Harbor.

“I think there’s four teams that could win our league this year,” Cain said. “I think this is the hardest league we’ve had in the three years I’ve been here.”

She has a pretty simple view of how South’s performance can affect its league standing.

“If we win out, we can win our league,” Cain said. “If we don’t, we probably won’t.”

She believes that will be significant as the Wolves enter districts. In 2009, South won the league tournament, which no longer exists, and entered districts as the Narrows’ top seed. The Wolves advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals that year.

“Last year we got third in our league and we played the state champions,” said Cain, referring to the shootout loss against Kentwood at districts. “I think it makes a big difference how you come out in league.”

Tuesday

South Kitsap 4, at Mount Tahoma 0

First half—1, South Kitsap, Amy Bakalarski (Natalie Stephens), 23rd minute; 2, South Kitsap, Stephens (Tarah West), 33rd; 3, South Kitsap, Stephens (West), 34th.

Second half—4, South Kitsap, Emily Wilkins (Annie Santa Cruz), 68th.

Thursday

Olympia 2, at South Kitsap 1

First half—1, Olympia, Lexi Fesenbek (penalty kick), 38th minute.

Second half—2, Olympia, Brooklyn Hooper, 50th; 3, South Kitsap, Becca Schoales (Brita Oleson), 75th.

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