SK to battle Battle Ground for state berth

Who says scouting teams up close and personal is a football thing only?

The South Kitsap High School girls soccer team wrapped up its district berth last Saturday but didn’t know who its opponent would be until Wednesday.

SK coach Eric Bergeson made the trek down to Camas on Tuesday night to scout the winner of the Battle Ground/Prairie soccer match.

Prairie, which had shut out Battle Ground in two previous matches, was upset and eliminated by the Tigers 1-0 to advance to a district winner-to-state match with SK today at 4 p.m. at Stadium Bowl.

Armed with a video camera, Bergeson spent Tuesday night watching not only the players but the tendencies of the head coach as well.

Bergeson thought Prairie was the better team.

“It was a little bit of an upset,” Bergeson said. “Prairie was the better team but Prairie never built it up on offense, either.”

What SK will get in Battle Ground is a veteran group led by eight starting seniors.

Its two leading scorers, Mira Sussman and Shelly Martindale, combined to score 12 of the team’s 22 goals.

What impresses Bergeson the most is the Tigers’ defense, led by sweeper Jamie Stuart.

“They have a very good sweeper,” Bergeson said. “She saved the day for them. She’s very solid.”

Against Prairie, Bergeson said Martindale, a center midfielder, marked back on defense to help Battle Ground preserve the win.

Bergeson said he found some gaps in Battle Ground’s defense.

“They played their sweeper flatline with the defense,” Bergeson said. “She didn’t play deep until late in the game.”

Not wanting to divulge SK’s gameplan, Bergeson chose the most diplomatic response on what the Wolves will try to exploit.

“ I’ll say this,” he said. “I got a good look at some things that will help us out.”

As for the matchup on speed, Bergeson said he likes his team’s speed over the Tigers, but claimed his players will need to be aggressive towards the ball.

“Battle Ground was very good at going aggressively to the ball,” Bergeson said. “I think it will be hard for them to match up with us if we have (Nicole) Bussman and Lauren (Gehring) on the wings.”

As for which team should be favored, Bergeson said all teams are good from here on out.

“When it comes to playoff time, the better team is the one who comes to play,” he said. “You have to be focused and go out there and play to win despite how tired you may be.”

On the injury front, left midfielder Lauren Kruzner has not been ruled out and may see some time if her sore ankle permits.

Starting sweeper, Karla Myles, practiced Wednesday and will be ready to go.

The winner of this game will open the state tournament against the District 2 No. 2 seed Shorewood at Stadium Bowl Tuesday at a time to be determined today or tomorrow.

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