Sports

Girls soccer: Wolves bounced in state quarterfinals

It perhaps was the biggest step in the history of South Kitsap’s girls soccer program.
 
 When the Wolves defeated Bellarmine Prep, which traditionally has dominated the Narrows League, in September, it felt like an arrival.
 
 South, which has beat the Lions at least once in four consecutive seasons, appeared on the verge of capturing its first league title since it won the Bridge Division in 2005.
 
 And then Bellarmine (16-2-1) reminded everyone of its place.
 
 The Lions shut out the Wolves for a second consecutive time, 2-0, Saturday in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School. Bellarmine advances to the semifinals Friday against Gig Harbor in Puyallup.
 
 “We probably have six teams in our league that could beat the other ones on any given night,” Bellarmine coach Joe Waters said. “It prepares you really well for down the road.”
 
 The Lions scored goals on a free kick by Kelly Beck in the sixth minute and added another by Stephanie Hamilton in the 63rd.
 
 “With that wind against you … to have that goal was huge,” Waters said in reference to Beck.
 
 South finished its season with a 12-4-2 record.
 
 “I’m proud of the girls,” South coach Julie Cain said. “They had a great season.”
 
 Cain already is looking forward to next season. The Wolves graduate goalkeeper Bri Smallige, who signed with Seattle University, and midfielder Kailey Lyman.
 
 “We do lose some significant players,” Cain said.
 
 Lyman’s departure might be somewhat offset by the return of Miranda Caballero. After being a first-team All-Narrows League selection as a sophomore in 2010, Caballero was sidelined this year with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in her knee. Cain said her team missed Caballero’s leadership and her ability to play balls in the air.
 
 Replacing Smallige could be a challenge, but Cain likes freshman Elisa Randle, who served as the team’s junior-varsity goalkeeper this year as a freshman, and Haley Yarbrough.
 
 “Haley Yarbrough is tall and athletic and has improved a lot,” Cain said. “She’s tall with long arms and is quick.”
 
 Randle or Yarbrough will play behind a veteran defense that allowed the fewest goals (seven) in 4A Narrows. The unit graduates Jessica Johnson, but returns Delaney Digiovanni and Christa Lane, both of whom will be seniors, and Hayley Romo. The latter started this year as a freshman.
 
 South also returns both its forwards — Becca Schoales, who is regarded by most as the premier player in the state, and Brita Oleson — for their senior seasons.
 
 Because of the depth and experience at that position, Cain said Rachel Prince, who played forward as a freshman this season, might shift to midfield. She could team with classmate Hailey Parker at that position.
 
 “(Prince) was tremendous in the Bellarmine game and she has been all year,” Cain said. “She’s almost as fast as Becca and has great skill.”
 
 This marked the second time in three years that the Wolves have advanced to the quarterfinals and fifth time in program history. But they never have moved forward from that point.
 
 Assuming 4A Narrows survives the next round of realignment, that might not be much easier next year. Bellarmine and Gig Harbor both are in the semifinals and the latter might be even younger than South.
 
 “Gig Harbor only has two seniors,” Cain said. “I think they’re going to be a real force.”
 
 Olympia, which also finished ahead of the Wolves in 4A Narrows, returns most of its team with the exception of standout senior forward Lexi Fesenbek.
 
 Bellarmine graduates both Hamilton, who was voted as the league’s Most Valuable Player, and Beck, but has won the regular-season league title the last five seasons.
 
 Despite that, Cain eagerly anticipates her team’s next challenge.
“We’re excited about next year,” she said. “Kids improve a lot in high school. I think it will be a fun league again next year.”
Class 4A state quarterfinals (at Mount Tahoma)
Bellarmine Prep 2, South Kitsap 0
First half—1, Bellarmine Prep, Kelly Beck (Kelsy Witker), 6th minute.
Second half—2, Bellarmine Prep, Stephanie Hamilton, 63rd.
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