Seniors shine on Senior Night

Although third place seems to be inevitable for the South Kitsap High School boys soccer team, SK coach Eric Bergeson is starting to like the way his team is playing.

After earning a well-earned 1-1 draw at home against a tough Gig Harbor team on Tuesday, the Wolves finished its home campaign with a 4-1 pasting of Olympic on Senior Night Thursday.

Bergeson said it was extra gratifying facing and beating Olympic, his alma mater, for the final home game of the year.

He also has friendly ties to the Trojans coaching staff.

Bergeson is a former player for Olympic coach Steve Haggerty, and assistant coach Jeff Trainer and Bergeson go way back to their college days as roommates.

But when the two teams meet, friendships are put aside for 80 minutes.

Olympic busted out with a goal just three minutes into the game, but senior Matt Hopper pumped some life into the team and crowd with an acrobatic goal, followed by a celebration that drew a yellow card.

Immediately after knotting the score at 1-1, Hopper peeled off his shirt and did a mid-air flip.

A smiling referee had no choice but to pull out a yellow card.

Hopper said he knew the consequences of actions, but wanted to make his final home game memorable.

“Yeah, I had to go all out,” Hopper said. “It was senior night and I wanted to do something special. I knew I’d get carded but I didn’t care. It was fun.”

What the goal did is spark an SK offense that hasn’t been the most potent over the previous three games.

In fact, SK’s four goals against Olympic equalled its goal total over the previous last three games.

Bergeson said the scoring hasn’t been proficient over the last two weeks, but he loves the way his team is coming together.

“I can’t say enough about our seniors,” Bergeson said.

“Look at the growth of someone like Hopper. He’s starting to show unselfish play and do a good job distributing the ball.”

It was Hopper that had the prettiest assist of the night.

Already up 3-1, Hopper placed a perfect touch pass to fellow senior Nick Fruner, who weaved his way through traffic before sticking his shot past Olympic’s diving goalkeeper.

It was Brendan Sweglar’s nifty goal late in the first half that allowed the Wolves to go into halftime with a 2-1 advantage.

SK continued to mount attacks on Olympic before junior Robbie Robinson blasted a shot from point-blank range in the 60th minute to give SK a two-goal cushion.

Fruner iced the game in the 70th minute.

With two games remaining (Monday and Wednesday) SK has an outside shot at second place, but realistically, Bergeson said third place is probably where the Wolves will end up.

SK trails first-place Gig Harbor by six points and Shelton by four points.

SK would need to defeat Shelton on Wednesday and hope Shelton loses or ties its game Monday.

What Bergeson is starting to see less of are the momentary lapses of intensity that has frustrated Bergeson at times this season.

But instead of there being a lack of intensity for an entire half, he said he’s only seeing it in brief spurts, most notably at the start of a game such as Olympic.

Come playoff time, those brief spurts could prove fatal, but Bergeson said there is more quality soccer to come.

“This is an outstanding group of men,” he said. “They haven’t even begun to tap into their potential yet.”

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