Sports

SK advances to quarterfinals

The plan was simple enough: Survive the wind, rely on the defense, sneak in a goal and get out of town.

It worked to perfection.

South Kitsap got a first-half goal from Robbie Robinson, packed defenders in front of its own net and got key saves from goalie Sam Canfield Tuesday night to beat Shorewood 1-0 in the first round of the Class 4A state soccer playoffs.

“Our basic idea was to try to play defense and keep them from getting shots because the wind was going in their direction (in the first half),” senior forward Brandon Pratt said. “When the second half came, after we had the lead, we just tried to keep our composure and play the line and play the corners like we usually do.”

The win sent the Wolves, 11-6-2, into the state quarterfinals for just the second time in school history. South has never been to the semifinals, but a win on Friday night would send the Wolves to Camas for next week’s final four.

South faced Juanita, 11-4-4, late Friday night in Juanita for one of the final-four berths.

Pratt, who missed last week’s winner-to-state game against Decatur because of a red card violation the game before, returned to spark the Wolves to the next round. Pratt began the goal-scoring play by beating the Shorewood defenders with a long throw-in that John VanGeelkerken tipped to Robinson who left-footed the ball past the Shorewood goalie.

“Me and (SK Coach Eric) Bergeson were talking about how I was going to have the most energy out of everybody,” Pratt said. “And I was just trying to prove to my teammates, even though I messed up last week, that I’m back and I’m going to try and take us all the way.

“I didn’t even know what happened,” Pratt said of the goal. “I saw big Robbie coming through and I knew right when he was running that it was going in. He always scores.”

That goal, coming in the 33rd minutes of the first half and against the wind, was just what Bergeson wanted.

“We’ve been fortunate in both (playoff) games to get that key first goal,” Bergeson said. “Get on the scoreboard first, catch them sneaking forward with the wind and catch them napping.”

With a 1-0 lead and the wind in the second half, South packed in the defense and rode the capable keeping of Canfield and the rest of the defenders.

“Our defense is on top of things,” Pratt said. “We make our little mental errors early in the game but we end up fixing them at halftime and then we don’t let anything get by.”

Shorewood had just two good looks all game. The first bounded off the cross bar in the first half and the second, a great chance late in the game, went wide left.

“Our defense held together really well,” freshman Kyle Schoales said. “There’s not much else to say — we played harder than they did, we played stronger and more physical.”

That is also a major part of the overall plan.

“The bottom line is, back-to-back shutouts against high-caliber, state-tournament caliber teams,” Bergeson said. “That makes me extremely proud. If our defense can continue to be that stingy, we’ll always have a chance.”

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