SK perfect in pre-season, now the work begins

South Kitsap’s girls soccer team got a sunny forecast on a soggy night.

The Wolves, playing in a bone-chilling drizzle, ran their exhibition record to 2-0 with a 2-1 win over Stadium on Thursday, raising head coach Eric Bergeson’s hopes for a big season in 2003.

“I think we came out of this game a lot more confident than we came in,” he said. “We found out we can compete with teams on this side of the bridge.”

Stadium, like other Narrows League teams outside of Kitsap County, is known for its physical, intimidating style of play.

“We knew that going in,” Bergeson said. “They’re not dirty or anything, they just play physical. We like to play that way, too, but position by position, we were probably outmanned in terms of size. Still, we didn’t back down and that shows me something.”

The Wolves opened the scoring just before halftime with a long pass from junior defender Stephanie Milne through the goal crease that Bergeson thought had overshot senior midfielder Lauren Gehring.

“I don’t know how (Gehring) caught up to the ball,” he said. “But she put on a burst of speed and managed to boot the ball past the keeper.”

Eight minutes into the second half, the Wolves got their second score as Cassie Brown converted a penalty kick after the Tigers were flagged for a hand ball.

“A lot of coaches will tell you a 2-0 lead is the most difficult to have,” Bergeson said. “And I guess we proved them right.”

Whether because of the lead or the miserable conditions, the Wolves lost some of their intensity after the second score and the Tigers answered with a goal if their own.

“That woke us up, I think,” Bergeson said. “It was nice to see us pick up our game and hold them from that point on.”

This season, tough defense figures to be the hallmark of the SK team, which features returning first-team all Narrows League sweeper Karla Myles.

Other contributors to the Wolves’ defense will be junior defenders Kristina Siler, Stephanie Milne and Maria Smith, and senior defender Naomi Burt.

“They were just stalwart (against Stadium),” Bergeson said. “Stadium is a very talented team and we just completely shut them down when we needed to. That was really great to see.”

SK, which returns all but three players from the team that reached the state quarterfinals a season ago, will be paced on offense by Gehring, who had goals in each of the Wolves’ two pre-season contests, and junior midfielder Lauren Kruzner.

Bergeson will alternate goalies this year, going with senior Ricci Kranjcevich and junior Alicia Cleaver. The tandem surrendered just one score in two pre-season games.

“We’ve got an excellent group of kids this year,” Bergeson said. “If they play the way they’re capable of playing, this has the potential to be a real special year.”

The Wolves open regular-season play hosting North Kitsap at Marcus Whit-man Junior High Field at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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