Forget a simple start.
But even with multiple factors working against them, the Wolves won their regular-season opener, 2-1, against Stadium in a Class 4A boys soccer match Wednesday night at Joe Knowles Stadium.
Those less-than-ideal factors included opening against a tough league opponent under a new coach. Perhaps just as significant was the absence of coach Cory Vartanian. His assistant coach, Lee La Deaux, assumed that role at 9 a.m. Wednesday when athletic director Ed Santos informed him that he would coach the match. La Deaux said he was not told about the circumstances surrounding Vartanian’s absence. He credited assistants Meagan Turner and David Meherg, a former Kitsap Pumas goalkeeper, with halftime adjustments that helped the Wolves break a 1-1 tie.
“We changed the system during the second half to a 4-4-2 that made them a little more comfortable,” La Deaux said. “From the back to the midfield, we were going across and switching the field. It made it a lot better for all of them. That’s the reason why we got the second goal.”
That came in the 62nd minute when senior Cameron Harris took a pass from junior Aaron Weathington and beat goalkeeper Ian Fry in a one-on-one situation.
“You’ve got to tuck it away,” La Deaux said. “The pressure’s on. He did a great job.”
It marked South’s first win against the Tigers since a 3-2 victory on May 7, 2007, in the league tournament. Stadium either won or tied the last eight matches in the series.
Senior goalkeeper Jaxom Beverage ensured that streak ended during the final 20 minutes when he made multiple saves, including one where he punched one shot over the goalpost, to secure the victory.
“He made three or four saves back there,” La Deaux said. “He did an awesome job.
“The last 15, 20 minutes — I think we sucked up a lot of pressure. We had to drop an extra man back to do that. That to me is fútbol right there when you’re dropping back and you’re sucking up pressure like that.”
The Wolves scored first in the 17th when senior midfielder Kieran Prince found classmate Bryton Owen to beat Fry, who appeared to slip on the goal.
“This ground is slick, get the ball into the box and who knows what can happen,” La Deaux said. “You see it day in and day out with professionals playing. Goalkeepers don’t like it coming across like that, especially when it’s slick. We’ll take it.”
The Tigers responded five minutes later on a penalty kick by forward Jacob Beardempl.
South then held them scoreless for nearly an hour. As difficult as that was, La Deaux said it will not get any easier as the Wolves continue league play Friday at rival Central Kitsap.
“That is going to be a difficult game,” he said. “They know no one is going to be easy in this league.”
At South Kitsap 2, Stadium 1
First half-1, South Kitsap, Bryton Owen (Kieran Prince), 17th minute; 2, Stadium, Jacob Beardempl (penalty kick), 22nd.
Second half-3, South Kitsap, Cameron Harris (Aaron Weathington), 62nd.