Wolves earn unsatisfying victory

Normally, a 3-1 win in a soccer match would make any coach very happy.

And it’s not as though South Kitsap coach Eric Bergeson wasn’t happy with his team’s 3-1 win over Olympic Thursday afternoon at Marcus Whitman Junior High.

He just expects more out of his team with the playoffs looming.

“I guess part of me, I just set such a high standard,” the third-year girls’ soccer coach said. “I just want to demand a lot from them because I know they have a lot to give.”

So far, the Wolves have put themselves in prime playoff position.

After a week that saw them go 2-0, including a 7-0 win over Bremerton Tuesday night, South sits alone in second place in the Narrows League Bridge Division with just two games left.

Gig Harbor, fresh off of a 1-0 win over Central Kitsap on Thursday night, is in first with 30 points.

South, now 9-2-3 overall and 9-1-2 in league play, follows with 29, while Central is third with 27 points.

North Kitsap has already wrapped up the fourth and final playoff spot.

The top two teams from the Bridge and Bay Divisions will face off next weekend in seeding games, while the third and fourth place teams will play each other in loser-out games.

South closes out the regular season with games at North Kitsap Monday night and at home Wednesday against Shelton, which is the team’s senior night.

“I’m looking at playoffs. I’m looking at the game Monday,” Bergeson said. “While I knew we had the game in hand at 3-1 and I was feeling pretty good about things, I want us to continue getting better every moment we’re on the field and I ask that of my players.”

He also challenged them after the game, with a growl in his voice, and let them know the effort and way they have been playing lately just isn’t going to cut it once the postseason begins.

“I don’t think there was anything that I yelled about or any coaching that I did today that they didn’t already know and feel,” Bergeson said. “I asked them after the game, ‘Am I being unreasonable?’ We won 3-1. I’m proud of them and I said plenty of positive things, but is that performance going to hold up in the postseason? And they said no. They were feeling the same frustration I was.”

That frustration began early Thursday as South had plenty of chances to go gain a quick lead but soon found itself behind 1-0 just 10 minutes into the game.

“I think the first five minutes, we came out well,” senior forward Nicole Bussman said. “And then we kind of relaxed. I think that’s when the (Olympic) goal snuck in. That kind of snapped us back awake, and then we all just played our game after that.”

That game meant two quick Bussman goals, giving her 16 on the year, and 2-1 lead.

Bussman, who has verbally committed to play at Southeast Missouri State next year, used her blinding speed to beat Olympic defenders to the corners and scored easily.

“We worked on finishing the day before (the game)," Bussman said. “A couple of times I didn’t get it, obviously, but it was just getting there, being there and finishing it. That’s all it takes.”

South added a nice goal a few minutes later as Erin Carpenter put in a header off a corner kick. At that point, it was time to sit back and play defense.

But Bergeson was not at all pleased with the way his team responded in the second half. Too many lost possessions and way too many turnovers had him steamed.

“We’ve got to, as coach and as players, learn to work through adversity, weather the storm and still stick to our game plan,” Bergeson said. “We had a brilliant practice (Wednesday) and then came out here and played kick ball.”

And while the defense got its usual solid performance from the backfield, led by Stephanie Milne, who moved to stopper for the game, Kristine Siler, Lauren Kruzner, Maria Smith and goalie Alicia Cleaver, the offense took the brunt of Bergeson’s wrath.

“Bergie always has positive and constructive criticism towards every single one of our players,” Bussman said. “What he sees on the sidelines, a lot of us don’t. I’m glad that he talks a lot and gives us constructive feedback on what we’re doing and what we need to work on.”

But his post-game talk seemed to get through.

“I’m trying to get the message through to them that we’re going far in the playoffs,” Bergeson said. “We’re getting better and they’ll have to fight me the whole way if they think anything different. They want what I want.

“This team has the chemistry, the love for each other, the concern for each other, the unity and the ability to go deep in the playoffs,” he added. “But not if we’re going to play at 75 percent of our ability.”

That much has been obvious the last few weeks.

“When we were good today, we were very good,” Bergeson said. “But when we were bad, it showed.”

The Wolves travel to Poulsbo Monday to face the Vikings and close out Wednesday with Shelton.

“We just have to finish the rest of our season with no ties, no losses,” Bussman said. “We just want to finish out with all wins.”

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