Close, but not quite there

It’s not like there’s a whole lot wrong. The South Kitsap boys soccer team is 2-1-1 on the year and just a few points out of first place in the Narrows League Bridge Division race heading into spring break.

But following a 2-2 tie on Wednesday against North Kitsap, coach Eric Bergeson felt he and his players needed to straighten a few things out.

A team meeting the following day and an intense indoor workout that focused on running and toughness followed, and now the Wolves have one thing left to do — make up their own minds as to what kind of team they want to be the rest of the way.

“As a coach, I was very frustrated with the North Kitsap game because we made a gigantic improvement from the first half to the second half,” Bergeson said. “The only two things that changed were that we were down a goal and I chewed into them at halftime. I don’t think I should have to yell and scream.

“I certainly don’t think we should have a whole other gear we can kick into in the second half when they’re more tired,” Bergeson said. “All I can think of is, ‘Why weren’t we operating at that level the entire game?’ ”

And that’s what frustrates the eighth-year coach more than anything. The talent is there. The ability is there. But he wonders if the willingness to sacrifice is there.

This is the second time the team has performed in a lackadaisical fashion. The first was a 1-0 loss to Central Kitsap to open the season.

“It happens every year, but I felt myself growing pretty frustrated at practice the day before and finally made my feelings clear,” Bergeson said. “I found myself growing frustrated with the level of focus and intensity during our pregame warmup (Wednesday) … and we got a 2-2 draw. And we were lucky to get a draw.”

So the team met Thursday in Bergeson’s classroom and got a list of questions to ponder.

Bergeson said the meeting covered the goals the team had set before the season started and he re-asked the top question once again: “What do you want out of this season.”

He said the answer was a simple but resounding “win.”

“And that was good,” Bergeson said. “It’s time that we started fighting. We need to get motivated — we need to literally get motivated.”

Thursday’s practice session should have taken care of that. Bergeson said he turned the session into a more basketball-like atmosphere with the team having to run lines on the court in certain times or the whole team would have to run again.

The Wolves also worked on being more aggressive and going after the ball. All of this is in the hopes the team will perform like Bergeson knows it can.

“I thought we had 40 minutes of apathetic, lazy soccer (Wednesday),” Bergeson said. “The meeting was to address some concerns about our toughness, about our willingness to sacrifice.”

Bergeson said the team must find a way to get more than just the back four involved in defending, and definitely must get more than just the front two forwards involved in the offensive attack.

But if they respond like they did in the second half of the North game, he’ll be satisfied.

“If the entire game had been like that, even if it had been the same result, I could have stomached it a little bit better,” Bergeson said. “But when you can all of a sudden kick it into a far superior tempo and level of play, I have to ask what they were saving it for.

“And the end-result is regret, a tie that we regret not being a win,” Bergeson said. “We talk about soccer-to-life all the time, and if you don’t work as hard as you can for something, someone else is going to and they’re going to take it from you.”

But Bergeson said there isn’t a lot to worry about. The team knows exactly what to do and how to do it. And he said he’s confident that they will respond in the right way.

“We’re united, we are a team,” Bergeson said. “We’re just a team that’s trying to find its way.

“These guys are going to change it. I don’t have any doubt about that. I’m not down on my team and I’m not mad at my team,” Bergeson said. “They fought hard to salvage a tie against a very good team and we’re a half-game out of first place. I just expect more out of them. The standard has been set and they’re going to reach it. If we win or lose games, that’s beside the point as long as we can say we gave it everything we had.”

Monday saw the Wolves get eight goals from seven different players in an 8-0 rout of Port Angeles, and the sophomores led the way.

Travis Gutierrez scored two of the goals while Kyle Schoales had two assists. The Wolves also got goals from Haakon Gangnes, Alex Jones, Corey and Victor Kelmel, Joseluis Melgar and Nolan Kalkwarf.

The South junior varsity suffered its first ever loss under second-year coach Brian Davenport Wednesday night, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Vikings. The loss snapped a 19-game winning streak that dated back to last year.

South faced Bremerton late Friday night and will return to league play April 12 at Olympic.

North Kitsap 2,

South Kitsap 2

First half: 1, Johnathon Critch, NK, 13th minute; 2, Tyler Penn (Dan Nelson), SK, 15th; 3, Critch (Carlos Portillo), NK, 33rd.

Second half: Haakon Gangnes (penalty kick), SK, 69th.

South Kitsap 8,

Port Angeles 0

First half: 1, Haakon Gangnes (Kyle Schoales), SK, 17th; 2, Alex Jones (Schoales), SK, 22nd; 3, Travis Gutierrez, SK, 31st.

Second half: 4, Corey Kelmel (Cade Mossman), SK, 47th; 5, Victor Kelmel, (Nolan Kalkwarf), SK, 57th; 6, Joseluis Melgar, SK, 64th; Gutierrez (Mossman), SK, 72nd; 8, Kalkwarf, SK, 77th.

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