Battle-tested Wolves eye spot in state tournament

Eric Bergeson is always preaching team concept, and this year he may have the ultimate concept team.

“I’ve never had a team this early in the season that’s been so united,” the South Kitsap High School soccer coach said. “Everyone seems to be accepted and everyone seems to fit in. The older guys are showing tremendous respect for the younger guys.”

It’s that kind of team concept, along with 10 returning seniors, that has the Wolves off to a 2-1 record and a quick 2-0 start in the Bridge Division of the Narrows League.

“Our expectations are the same as last year,” said Robbie Robinson, a stopper and part-time forward. “We want to get in those top two spots in league, and we should go to at least to state.

“We just have to start working together and we’ll be set,” Robinson said. “We’ve got plenty of talent on the team. We should be set.”

Robinson is one of 10 seniors Bergeson said have taken the leadership role and run with it.

“They’re good soccer players, but more importantly, my seniors are good people,” Bergeson said. “They’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. They’re doing a great job of looking out for the young guys, so when the younger guys are about to make a mistake, rather than the coach correcting each little thing and teaching them those tough lessons, they’re already been told both by example and in words from the senior leaders.”

All the seniors were part of team that ended its season last year with a 2-0 loss to Thomas Jefferson, a loss that left them one game short of the state playoffs.

“Bergeson and me, we both hate losing,” Robinson said. “We both feel it and we remember it.”

“We’re going to win our share of games,” Bergeson said. “We’re going to fight and it’s going to matter. But wins and losses aside, it’s going to be a successful season because they are such a great group.”

Robinson showed his leadership by switching positions, as did Konnar Kaio-Maddox.

“This year, Bergeson has a new formation and stuff and he’s expecting a lot from the defense,” Kaio-Maddox said.

Kaio-Maddox moved from midfielder to defender this year to open up Cade Mossman — a move he willingly made.

Also returning is Bergeson’s utility guy, Francis Pyle, who can and is willing to play anywhere.

“Most of us have played together for the last two or three years,” Pyle said. “Everyone knows each other and it’s easier to get along. I need to pick myself up, I haven’t been playing very well the last couple of years.”

The Wolves will use their speed to play great defense but goalie has been a question mark coming in — until now.

The tandem of Nick Boone and Sam Canfield have allowed one goal in the first three games, and that one was an own-goal in the Wolves season-opening loss to Mercer Island.

“Entering the season, we didn’t know what we were going to have,” Bergeson said. “As it’s turned out, we’ve got two and they’ve been both been doing a great job.

“I’m concerned that they don’t have experience and they don’t have experience in big games,” Bergeson said. “It’s such a crucial position, but I also have confidence in them. I’ve really been impressed with the way they have competed.”

Others that Bergeson is counting on include senior defender Jimmy Hoettel, midfielders John VanGeelkerken, Mossman and Brandon Pratt and forward Ryan Schurr.

“They have the ability,” Bergeson said. “It’s a just a matter of getting that sort of attitude that we’re going to succeed and we’re going to will it to be so, that they’re not going to accept anything else.”

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